Friday, March 9, 2007

Voted Out

Your vote is your voice, but too many people have suddenly gotten laryngitis at the ballot box. The new technology hailed as the savior from dangling chads has created a new set of problems.

UNPLUGGED. Diebold appears ready to ditch its electronic voting machines, riddled with problems and bad karma which could end up hurting sales of the company's mainstay products in the financial world -- including ATMs.

From the AP:
Diebold indicated it still is "vulnerable to these types of challenges because the electronic elections systems industry is emerging." The report also mentioned inconsistency in the way state and local governments are adapting to federal requirements for upgrades in voting technology.
Pencil, paper and a lock on a box sound better all the time.

IN THE RED. One hundred million dollars in marketing and Bono do not a successful charity campaign make, as evidence suggests from the Red efforts. The AIDS-fighting project designed to let people give while they buy red cell phones and trendy fashions has only raised $18 million so far.

From AdAge:
Trent Stamp, president of Charity Navigator, which rates the spending practices of 5,000 nonprofits, said he's concerned about the campaign's impact on the next generation. "The Red campaign can be a good start or it can be a colossal waste of money, and it all depends on whether this edgy, innovative campaign inspires young people to be better citizens or just gives them an excuse to feel good about themselves while they buy an overpriced item they don't really need."
One critic nails it:
"The Red campaign proposes consumption as the cure to the world's evils," said Ben Davis, creative director at Word Pictures Ideas, co-creator of [a Red parody] site. "Can't we just focus on the real solution -- giving money?"
We would, if we hadn't spent it on our Red American Express card already.

WITCH HUNT. Lauren Berrios is a former Catholic who converted to Judaism. But to the Hampton Bays school district in New York City, she's wicked, and she's suing them for $2 million. Berrios says she was fired for using literature to entice people into witchcraft.

What literature, you ask? Oh, the usual suspects -- the Harry Potter and Goosebumps books. Great corruptors of youth they are.

From WCBS-TV, New York:
She believes books that didn't mesh with principal's religious values, even including African-American literature, were taken out of her curriculum.

[Her lawyer] admits that Berrios' appearance didn't help her cause either, especially when she was teaching her students about the Salem witch trials. "Mrs. Berrios has long fingernails, wears dark make-up, wears black," he said.
At least the school didn't throw her in the harbor to see if she floated.

RECORD NO EVIL. If a man beats you to a pulp in the street, and a reporter wasn't there to photograph it, did it happen? France is banning the filming or broadcasting of violent acts unless you're a "professional journalist."

From IDG via MacWorld:
During parliamentary debate of the law, government representatives said the offense of filming or distributing films of acts of violence targets the practice of “happy slapping,” in which a violent attack is filmed by an accomplice, typically with a camera phone, for the amusement of the attacker’s friends.
The law was approved exactly 16 years after a home video camera captured the LAPD beating of Rodney King. Remember, France does not have a First Amendment. But even without the letter of the law, the spirit of the law is infectious.
The journalists’ organization Reporters Without Borders, which campaigns for a free press, has warned that such a system could lead to excessive self censorship as organizations worried about losing their certification suppress certain stories.
If you love your freedom, thank a veteran. And then go enlighten a Frenchman.

NEXT TIME, WE'LL JUST LET IT BURN. Mexico is upset with U.S. Border Patrol agents in Arizona for crossing south of the line to put out a brush fire after it crossed the line, too.

From the AP's account of a Mexican government news release:
"While the department recognizes that the incursion may have been a response to an attempt to deal with an emergency, as the U.S. Embassy states, it has reiterated ... that even during emergency situations, it is required, without exception, to immediately notify the Mexican authorities."
You work the hose, I gotta make a phone call.

Where the heck are the Minutemen when you need 'em? Their fences have problems, but they oughta be at least capable of a bucket brigade. As for Mexico, why get all bent out of shape over a good deed?

The Golden Rule model for handling such incidents goes to Liechtenstein, which recently dealt with an accidental incursion by members of the Swiss Army who got lost.

From the AP:
Officials in Liechtenstein also played down the incident.

Interior ministry spokesman Markus Amman said nobody in Liechtenstein had even noticed the soldiers, who were carrying assault rifles but no ammunition. "It's not like they stormed over here with attack helicopters or something," he said.
Yeah, but those knives they carry are something else.

One commenter on Newsvine still sees a diabolical plot:
This was the first phase of their plan to conquer the world. In 10 years we will all be armed, building clocks, eating swiss cheese and chocolate.

Nut tu menshun ve-a veell ell be-a speekeeng leeke-a thees. Feer zee Sveess. Zeey ere-a cumeeng tu teke-a oofer zee vurld. Meesteke-a my heeeny. Furst Leeechtenstein, zeen vurld. Merk my vurds. Bork Bork Bork!

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