Stuff Yaron Finds Interesting

Technology, Politics, Food, Finance, etc.

Bush and American Justice

have been meaning to put this table up for a while. It was originally in The Economist July 12th 2003 issue in a table entitled "Perry Mason, this ain't". It compares the rights defendants have had in various trial venues against the rights that the Bush administration would give defendants who are considered 'enemy combatants' in his special 'military commissions'. See my 9/12/2002 entry for an example of an American citizen arrested on American soil being declared an 'enemy combatant'. In other words, this could be you.

Rights To:
US criminal Court
Terrorism Trials in North Ireland
South African apartheid
US court Martial
Bush's Military commission for Trying Suspected Terrorists
Civil Judge
yes
yes
yes
no
no
Choose own lawyer
yes
yes
yes
yes
no
Remain Silent
yes
yes
no
yes
yes
Open Trial
yes
yes
yes
no no
Jury Trial
yes
no
no
no
no
Lawyer-Client confidentiality
yes
yes
yes
yes
no
Know all evidence against you
yes
yes
yes
yes
no
Appeal to independent judge
yes
yes
yes
yes
no

While there may be arguments for changes in some court procedures due to the special threat of terrorists, the Bush administration does not appear to have made any serious attempt to find that compromise. Instead they have created kangaroo courts.
For those who are curious, the U.S. courts ordered the government to let Padilla meet with his lawyers. The government refused the order and the judge, rather than ordering the government to obey his order, decided to certify an appeal. Arguments have been filed in the appeal and the oral hearings should happen in 10/2003. This means that an American citizen, arrested on American soil has been put under arrest, denied right to an attorney, not been charged with anything, not allowed to meet with anyone for over 15 months. Welcome to Bush's America.
As for Zacarias Moussaoui, the basic facts I stated in my 07/15/2003 entry still hold true. The government has now refused two orders by the judge to let Moussaoui call the named witnesses. The government now wants the judge to dismiss all charges against Moussaoui. This would allow the government to either expedite its appeal of the judge's order to let Moussaoui interview the witnesses or allow the government to re-arrest Moussaoui as an 'enemy combatant' and charge him in a 'Military commission'. Here was the most enlightening discussion I could find of why the Judge has rejected the government's requests and what the government could have done to both protect national security and defend the constitution. The Judge's decision should come down next week.
Every vote against Bush is a vote for freedom and don't forget to pay your freedom insurance.

m4s0n501

Microsoft and Office Innovation

As a thought for today, Microsoft really hasn't managed to add too many compelling features to their Office monopoly. On top of that their recent licensing games have certainly given customers an incentive to look elsewhere. At the high end Office is still the best there is. But the majority of customers are no where near the high end. There are now a large number of competing products, many available for free, that more than meet the needs of most users.

The irony is that Microsoft has traditionally killed off the majority players in any market they enter by offering a product that is 'good enough', lower priced and leverages their existing monopolies. The Office alternatives has reached the point where they have certainly nailed two out of three. Given Office's institutionalized refusal to base any of its code on Windows it doesn't even get to take advantage of the Window's monopoly beyond getting first access to new versions and getting its bugs fixed NOW. But given how mature the office market is and given the generally low rate of new features it isn't clear how much of an advantage that really is.

In the short term none of this matters, no body gets fired for buying Microsoft. But in the medium and long term the change of events spells interesting times. How long until some CIO becomes a hero by slashing the company's Office budget to near zero and the pattern is set? I realize training and support is a bigger issue but anyone who knows Office will be comfortable with the alternatives and I suspect the support for the free/low cost choices are generally better then anything Microsoft can offer.

Microsoft's lack of innovation and pricing games is exactly the sort of help its competitors need.



Debian… oy.

This weekend I installed Debian on an old computer. Most of the install was just blindly pressing return but I ran into a problem getting X to start. It turned out that in the configuration they suggested uses a frame buffer setting that doesn't work on my machine but it took me an hour or two to figure this out. I am still setting Debian up with features I was able to trivially get on Windows. For example, I have a utility called Tardis on windows that uses NTP to set my clock. Of course I could get the NTP client for Debian. It was just a matter of doing a quick package search and then using apt-get. But I then had to go find a list of suitable NTP sites and type them in manually. Tardis came pre-configured. Tardis also shows me that it is working but I can't be sure the NTP deamon is running (I haven't checked) and even if it is I'm not 100% sure that the KDE clock is listening to it. I'm sure everything works just fine but there is no pro-active indication of this. (BTW, I like KDE a lot more than Gnome) No, none of its a big deal, it's just that everything is a little harder on Debian. Still, with crossover I'm hoping to become Windows free within the next few weeks. I need the crossover plugin to get things like Quicktime and Crossover office to get access to Quicken. I'm happy to pay the software fees required to get Crossover. Other then that there seem to be reasonable alternatives for everything else. I will keep y'all informed.

A Review of the Waterfront Seafood Restaurant in Seattle

Service in Seattle is about as fictional as Sleepless in Seattle so when one experiences an exception it is worth writing about. My family decided to hold a major family dinner event in Seattle. We needed to find a place that could host 14 people for dinner, in a 'special' location befitting the occasion. We selected the Waterfront Seafood Restaurant and we are glad we did. Everybody had a great time, everything went smoothly, the prices were reasonable, the view was wonderful and the food was good.

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