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95 posts from January 2006

January 31, 2006

Really good technical writing

It's rare that I encounter two stellar examples of technical writing in the same day. In fact, it's so rare as to be newsworthy.

Here they are:

The Richmond Democrat on the .380-caliber Kel-Tec P-3AT automatic pistol.

Rob Galbraith on compact flash.

The Fuller Brushman, he ain't

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Some women in Springfield are regretting their decision last week to get a tattoo from a door-to-door tattoo salesman. At least one person had to be hospitalized and the others face serious health risks. [KMBC-TV]

A door-to-door tattoo artist with a homemade tattoo gun. What could possibly go wrong?

Via Czelticgirl.

Wikipedia blocks US Congress IP address

Wikipedia blocks United States Congress IP addresses due to rampant vandalism by Hill staffers. [CNET]

The statement of dispute from Wikipedia's Request for Comment [RFC] page on the dispute surrounding the United States Congress entry:

This [Request for Comment] is being opened in order to further a centralized discussion concerning actions to be taken against US Congressional staffers and possibly other federal employees who have engaged in unethical and possibly libelous behavior in violation of Wikipedia policies (WP:[Neutral Point of View], WP:[Civility]). The editors from these IP ranges have been rude, abrasive, immature, and show disregard for Wikipedia policy. The editors have frequently tried to censor the history of elected officials, often replacing community articles with censored biographies despite other users' attempts to dispute these violations. They also violate Wikipedia:Verifiability, by deleting verified reports, while adding flattering things about members of Congress that are unverified. The offending editors have been blocked. This RFC is needed to gather community comments. It is proposed that a one week block is not enough.

Here's Wikipedia's page of Congressional Staffer Edits.

Recommended reading

Juan Cole's top 10 Things Bush won't tell us about the State of the Union.

Matt Stoller's denunciation of craven Democrats, hat tip to Battle Panda.

Glenn Greenwald's 10 questions for Alberto Gonzales when he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on domestic spying. Questions 1-5 and 6-10.

The Carpetbagger discusses Russ Feingold's questions for Gonzales. The Wisconsin senator has accused Gonzales of lying to the Senate about the president's power to authorize wiretaps without warrants. The Attorney General was asked in 2005 whether the president had such powers, and he told the Senate Judiciary that it was impossible to answer the question because it concerned a hypothetical situation. However, we now know that the situation wasn't hypothetical at all--the president authorized warrantless wiretapping in 2001, (if not earlier). [WaPo]

The Gothamist reports that a woman is suing the Century 21 department store after she was allegedly detained and beaten by store security on suspicion of shoplifting. The store says the surveillance tapes were "mistakenly thrown out."

CNET News on the anonymous blogger unmasked as GOP operative. Michael Brodkorb's true identity came to light when a Democratic political consultant sued Brodkorb, a former Republican party spokesman, for defamation.

A nation of snitches: "Unverified" reports of terror threats are piling up in the Pentagon's Talon database, including reports on peaceful activists. Talon reports are supposed to be purged every 90 days if their allegations can't be substantiated. [WaPo]

InkBlog on tattoos from ground zero--how the workers of Local Union 79 commemorated their 10 months of service to the WTC cleanup.

Which Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Are You?


You are Rule 8, the most laid back of all the

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. While your

forefather in the Federal Rules may have been

a stickler for details and particularity, you

have clearly rebelled by being pleasant and

easy-going. Rule 8 only requires that a

plaintiff provide a short and plain statement

of a claim on which a court can grant relief.

While there is much to be lauded in your

approach, your good nature sometimes gets you

in trouble, and you often have to rely on

your good friend, Rule 56, to bail you out.

Which Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Via Moon Over Pittsburgh.

Military concealed cause of female soldiers' deaths

Several female soldiers at Camp Liberty died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquid in the afternoons, for fear of having to walk to the latrine at night and risk being raped by their male colleagues.

Military Hides Cause of Women Soldiers' Deaths
By Marjorie Cohn
t r u t h o u t | Report
Monday 30 January 2006

In a startling revelation, the former commander of Abu Ghraib prison testified that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former senior US military commander in Iraq, gave orders to cover up the cause of death for some female American soldiers serving in Iraq.

Last week, Col. Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several women had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women's latrine after dark.

The latrine for female soldiers at Camp Victory wasn't located near their barracks, so they had to go outside if they needed to use the bathroom. "There were no lights near any of their facilities, so women were doubly easy targets in the dark of the night," Karpinski told retired US Army Col. David Hackworth in a September 2004 interview. It was there that male soldiers assaulted and raped women soldiers. So the women took matters into their own hands. They didn't drink in the late afternoon so they wouldn't have to urinate at night. They didn't get raped. But some died of dehydration in the desert heat, Karpinski said. [...]

How is it possible that American female soldiers are living in fear of rape by their own colleagues? We know that rape is a serious problem in the military, but it's odd that a significant number of soldiers at Camp Liberty would be afraid of getting jumped on the way back from the latrine. These women are armed and presumably trained to ward off attackers.

What is it about this situation that's compelling our troops to risk their health and even their lives to protect themselves from their own colleagues?

January 30, 2006

Monday Alito gameplan: Lead, follow, or get out of the way

The Vichy Democrats have the latest Alito filibuster game plan (and all contact info you could ever need for haranguing Senators to maximum effect):

Our theme today is: Lead, Follow, Or Get Out of the Way. In political terms, that's: EITHER SUPPORT THE FILIBUSTER OR ABSTAIN FROM THE CLOTURE VOTE, BUT DON'T GET IN OUR WAY.

The VDems are outdoing themselves. Check out their advice. Then go nag a Senator or two on your lunch break.

Chaffee will vote against Alito

Alito Sucks
Originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.
We're getting closer: Republican senator Lincoln Chafee says he will oppose Alito [Raw Story]

Archaelogical treasures destroyed by klutz

A British museum-goer tripped and smashed not one but two Qing vases:

Historic vases smashed in stumble

The 300-year-old Qing vases were among the best known artefacts at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

The visitor is said to have slipped on a loose shoelace and fallen down a staircase bringing the vases crashing down as he tried to steady himself.

The vases, donated in 1948, were said to hold a "significant value" and were among the best known pieces on display.

The museum declined to identify the man who had tripped.

The accident happened last Wednesday and the museum said it was a most unfortunate and regrettable accident.

Margaret Greeves, the museum's assistant director, said: "They are in very, very small pieces, but we are determined to put them back together."[BBC]

Poor guy. He'd better hope the Fitzwilliam Museum doesn't have a "Pottery Barn" policy.

Good rule

In Police Rules, Weapons and Drinking Should Not Mix [NYT]

Via The Gothamist.