Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The First Amendment

I read one of those headlines: "more people can name lame pop culture... than rights granted by the first amendment to the constitution." So, this isn't much but here is hoping I can be part to remind some people in the USA what our government was formed to do for us. The First Amendment to the Constitution, rights:

  • Freedom of religion

  • Freedom of the press

  • Freedom of speech

  • Freedom of peaceful assemble

  • Right to petition the government for redress

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

The USA has some great things going for it but without vigilance there is always danger to the ideals the country was founded on.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Benjamin Franklin

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."
Thomas Jefferson

"First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak out for me."
Martin Niemoeller

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Washington's Worst Jobs

I ran across this portion of an article from the City Paper awhile back with an article on Washington's Worst jobs listing the 10 worst jobs in Washington DC. I had one of them at the time and the write up they included was hilarious - I don't think it really was close to actually being one of the worst jobs but I can see why they chose to include it. From the article:

Unlike for instance the Department of Interior, where the drudgery and anonymity of government work could be mitigated by a built-in sense of larger purpose, OPM exists solely to manage the red tape of the federal government employment. It is the bureaucracy of the bureaucracy.
"Some stay longer," says one benefits specialist. "But they're like prisoners who have stayed in jail so long they don't want to leave."
Once the proper documents have been assembled, the benefits specialist figures out what retirement rules apply to the retiree. Since the guidelines are constantly changing, determining what a retiree is owed is often so Byzantine a calculation as to be an open question, a matter of interpretation.
And while they are scurrying to juggle several cases a day, they are getting calls and questions for cash-strapped and confused retirees as well as supervisors who are constantly reviewing and sending back work.
"It's similar to assembly-line work," says one benefits specialists. "It's just one after another. And there's not a lot of camaraderie here, not many friendships. You can come in, do your work all day, never speak to anyone, and then go home."

I thought is was great write up. Not really accurate but funny and with just enough hints of truth - just framed in the way to make the best story not the most accurate one. I remember it also listed a job for city rat exterminator - now that probably is one of the worst jobs. I can't really see sitting in an air conditioned room moving paper from one side of your desk to another and trying to improve processes (well I was - and not getting too much help with that though there were a few people that did) is really that horrible. See what I have done since.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Voting Machine Failures

Diebold vote-hack roundup provides a series of quotes and links on problems with electronic voting machines:

"Electronic voting machine breakdowns have wreaked havoc in recent state primaries, disenfranchising thousands of voters and calling into question election results, " said Holly Jacobson co-director of Voter Action. "While we are pleased with today's verdict, the serious security flaws inherent in electronic voting technology - confirmed in a new study by Princeton University experts last week, underscore the need for more secure and verifiable voting systems. Paper ballots do not fail to boot up and can be reliably counted, audited and recounted. This is why half the counties in the country are using them. Maryland 's Governor Ehrlich announced his support for returning his state to paper ballots earlier this week".

Our previous posts on this topics: Security of Electronic Voting

Sunday, August 12, 2007