Monday, August 16, 2010
How the "ground zero mosque" fear mongering began
A group of progressive Muslim-Americans plans to build an Islamic community center two and a half blocks from ground zero in lower Manhattan. They have had a mosque in the same neighborhood for many years. There's another mosque two blocks away from the site. City officials support the project. Muslims have been praying at the Pentagon, the other building hit on Sept. 11, for many years.
In short, there is no good reason that the Cordoba House project should have been a major national news story, let alone controversy. And yet it has become just that, dominating the political conversation for weeks and prompting such a backlash that, according to a new poll, nearly 7 in 10 Americans now say they oppose the project. How did the Cordoba House become so toxic, so fast?
In a story last week, the New York Times, which framed the project in a largely positive, noncontroversial light last December, argued that it was cursed from the start by "public relations missteps." But this isn't accurate. To a remarkable extent, a Salon review of the origins of the story found, the controversy was kicked up and driven by Pamela Geller, a right-wing, viciously anti-Muslim, conspiracy-mongering blogger, whose sinister portrayal of the project was embraced by Rupert Murdoch's New York Post.
Monday, August 09, 2010
Pat Tillman's mother on Stanley McChrystal: I told you so
McChrystal's actions should have been grounds for firing him back then. That is why it was so disturbing to us when President Obama instead promoted McChrystal to the position of top commander in Afghanistan last year. At the time, I sent the president an e-mail and a letter reminding him of McChrystal's involvement in Pat's coverup. In the letter, I suggested McChrystal be "scrutinized very carefully" by the Senate Armed Services Committee. Pat's father and I both gave statements to the media reiterating that McChrystal should be properly vetted. We had real knowledge of McChrystal's questionable behavior, of actions that should perhaps have disqualified him from this position, and we felt it would be negligent not to do something. Our entreaties fell on deaf ears.
After McChrystal was forced to step down in June, I was contacted by several reporters and asked to give my thoughts about McChrystal, but I declined to comment. I hadn't read the piece in its entirety, so it seemed inappropriate to respond. Now, though, I have read and thought about the article. Obama clearly had no choice but to relieve McChrystal of his command. But how sad that the president and Congress didn't properly scrutinize the general a year ago.
Thursday, July 08, 2010
For Those Facebook Left Behind
"As a public service, therefore, I’m offering a handy clip-’n’-save guide to the social networking services you’re most likely to hear about at this summer’s barbecues. (Warning: This is an extremely basic overview. If you’re already someone who, you know, tweets, this will all seem like old news. But it’s not intended for you.)
These services all have a few things in common. They’re all free. They’re all confusing at first. They all require time to understand and exploit. You can interact with them from your cellphone, which is part of why they’re so popular."
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Why You Should Write Down Your Passwords
Common wisdom over the last couple of decades has been to never write down the passwords you use for accessing networked services. But is now the time to begin writing them down? Threats are constantly evolving and perhaps it’s time to revisit one of the longest standing idioms of security – “never write a password down”.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Despite Spending $50 Million, California Rejects PG&E
PG&E is desperate to stop community choice aggregation – where local governments can purchase energy to offer their constituents a “public option” to the company’s monopoly. Proposition 16 would have required a two-thirds vote of the electorate before cities can do community choice aggregation, and cynically dubbed it the Taxpayer’s Right to Vote.
Never mind that taxpayers already have the right to vote out their elected officials – if they don’t support community choice aggregation. Never mind that ratepayers were not given the chance on voting for PG&E as their energy provider. Public power is not even one of my top “issues,” but I was outraged that PG&E would try something like Prop 16.
PG&E shattered campaign spending records with $50 million to pass Prop 16 – ratepayer money that we give them every month when we pay our energy bills. The only organized opposition was TURN (the Utility Reform Network), who only raised $90,000. Bloggers got creative by making “No on 16” videos, and a hilarious Twitter feed. But the campaign often seemed like a rag-tag army tilting at the windmills.
Sunday, May 09, 2010
Why Ubuntu excites me more than Windows or Macintosh
You know that thing that happens on your computer, when you are using Windows? When you ask it to do something, and it thinks about it, and then it keeps thinking, and then you go off and make a cup of tea, and it’s still thinking, and you want to headbutt the wall, again and again, until gets all smeared and red and bloody and bits of your brain are raining down on to your shoes? Yes? Well, there’s a way to stop that happening. Stop using Windows. Use Ubuntu instead...
...Personally, I dual boot with Vista, although I’ve barely used Vista
three times in six months. The sole reason I do this is because Ubuntu
won’t run iTunes properly...
...Obviously, it’d be nice if Apple would do something about that.
Although I doubt they ever will. Because if they did, why would anybody
ever buy a Mac?
Saturday, April 24, 2010
New, Deadly Cryptococcus Gattii Fungus Found in U.S.
Infections from a new strain are unpreventable - and the strain is spreading.
A new strain of hypervirulent, deadly Cryptococcus gattii fungus has been discovered in the United States, a new study says.
The outbreak has already killed six people in Oregon, and it will likely creep into northern California and possibly farther, experts say.
The new strain is of the species Cryptococcus gattii, an airborne fungus native to tropical and subtropical regions, including Papua New Guinea, Australia, and parts of South America. An older strain of the fungus was frst detected in North America in British Columbia, Canada, in 1999.
No one knows how the species got to North America or how the fungus can thrive in a temperate region, experts say.
"The alarming thing is that it's occurring in this region, it's affecting healthy people, and geographically it's been expanding," said study co-author Edmond Byrnes, a graduate student at the Joseph Heitman Lab at Duke University.