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  Saturday, March 25, 2006

Bush is very fond of signing statements, which is when the President, upon signing a bill into law, attaches a statement that gives his interpretation of it. Bush has issues hundreds of signing statements, and many of them have in fact said that he has no intention to abide by some or all of the bill.

Case in point: the re-authorization of the Patriot Act. Upon signing it into law, Bush attached a signing statement saying that rather than obey the letter of the provisions on oversight and reporting to Congress, he will keep his own counsel as to what information needs to be passed on to Congress.His claim is that the President's Constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch gives him the right to do this.

10:51:32 PM    comment []

My blogroll got way too long, so last week I started culling from Newsgator the feeds that I never get around to reading, went dead on their own, or where the signal to noise ration dropped too low.

Groklaw has been on my blogroll almost since day one, but alas, no more. I started reading it because in the early days there was interesting commentary about the SCO case, and because I think it's important for anyone who works in a company to know what their detractors are saying about them. Listening to your critics is an important first step towards intellectual honesty. And of course, I thought it was really cool that a paralegal would take it on her own to help to drive thoughtful discussion of legal issues using her experience in the legal profession.

But for the past few months, Groklaw has really just felt like a bunch of shrieking and mudslinging, branching out beyond SCO to regular, somewhat deranged attacks on Microsoft and unquestioning fealty to Linux and the open-source community. It's really a shame to see someone with the critical thinking skills that Pamela has lower herself to this kind of O'Reilly-style attack persona. Microsoft is not an evil, faceless corporation, and not everything that the open source community does is good. Microsoft joins a standards body; it must be up to no good. Microsoft innovates in the interface of Office, and all she can say is "wow, lots of retraining required for the disabled community." C'mon -- throw Microsoft a bone every once in a while. Microsoft has been a real leader in making software accessible over the past decade.  A CNET reporter writes an article criticizing Stallman and GPL 3.0, and it's suddenly subversive Microsoft FUD. Because no one in their right minds would think that Stallman was a whack-job, or that the new GPL license might have serious issues, unless Microsoft put them up to it, right?

So I'm done, and Groklaw is off my blogroll. Pamela, good luck, I hope you continue to have success with Groklaw, and at some point you stop the screeching and find more of a balance in your writing. Believe me, I know how hard that is; every day I have to restrain myself from just letting loose at the Republicans and ranting about what I think they're doing to our country. On my good days, I remember to question my sources as well as my conclusions. It's never easy, but it's absolutely required.

5:11:22 PM    comment []

Here's an interesting article about the never-ending debate surrounding Wikipedia, trust and authoritative-ness (if that's even a word).

Do you know what the Wikipedia folks' mistake was? The decided to call label it an encyclopedia. In doing so, they set up a direct comparison form day one and ensnaring them in a debate that they can never win. They let themselves be measured on the competition's terms.

There's some very interesting stuff in Wikipedia. Hell, the taxonomy of terms itself will be a significant contribution -- probably more than the actual prose.Wikipedia will far outgrow encyclopedias because of the sheer manpower as well as the lack of "editorial voice" trying to manage it down to some individuals' definition of an interesting set of entries.

But as Simon points out, what we're really doing is trusting the authors and/or the editors, and since wikipedia's are without reputation, it will never reach the trust bar of a real encyclopedia. That doesn't mean that it shouldn't be consulted, by any means, or that it's useless (it's not). But it will always have an air of "truthiness" (as Stephen Colbert would say -- continued here) to it. Wikipedia feels the world at us.

(I really encourage you to view the Colbert videos above -- because the way he talks about truthiness captures the practical spirit of Wikipedia, Slashdot, and so much of dialogue on the Internet today)



4:37:25 PM    comment []

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