2008 State of the Union as Tag Cloud

Last year’s 2007 State of the Union Tag Cloud was such a hit, I decided to follow up again this year. A few major differences: Congress is mentioned a lot more this year, while health and oil don’t show up at all. This year’s address looks more active…instead of “fight” we get “fighting”. Overall, the themes are still easily picked out: “terrorists” still play a major part in the speech, and we get “empower” and “hope” and “trust” as themes.

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Digital Culture

Alan Turing

In all the excitement about the Democratic wins of yesterday, there’s been little coverage about my least-favorite happening here in TN: the passage of the Marriage Amendment. Evidently, 80% of the people who voted in the state of Tennessee are…to put it not-so-politely…bigoted idiots.

So in honor of that 80%, I thought I’d play a game called: My Favorite Homosexual! This is a simple game, anyone can play (and I’d like to suggest those with blogs play along) where I talk a bit about my favorite gay or lesbian from history.

My Favorite Homosexual is Alan Turing.

Alan Turing, arguably, was the key figure that led to the Allied victory in WWII. He was instrumental in breaking the German Enigma machine, the code that the German army used to relay messages. This allowed Allied commanders to know their enemies movements, plans, and goals…it doesn’t take Sun Tzu to know how important that is in war. Turing also developed the Bombe, an electro-mechanical device for analyzing Enigma keys…one of the first computers. He is most famous in geek circles for the Turing Test, a rubric for deciding if an Artificial Intelligence is actually intelligent. He is also the name behind the Turing Machine a thought experiment famous for its impact on computer science. By any measure, Turing was a genius, and was one of Britain’s national treasures…one of the brightest minds in the world, using his brilliance to serve his country and (without much hyperbole) save the world.

In the early 1950’s, Turing’s relationship with a younger man came to light, and he was arrested and prosecuted in England for “gross indecency.” He was given a choice between jail and probation that would include hormone treatment…a form of chemical castration. In 1954, after a year of the treatments mandated by the courts, he was found dead, with a half-eaten apple laced with cyanide beside him, an apparent suicide.

He wasn’t yet 42 years old.

What did the world lose when he took his life? The sad truth is, of course, we’ll never know. And we won’t know because short-sighted, bigoted, stupid people had a law that punished someone for a private, consensual, non-harmful act. So I say to the people of Tennessee: Shame on you. Shame on you for continuing the denigration and persecution of members of your society for nothing more than the way they were born. Shame on you for treating members of your society truly as second-class citizens. And shame on you for for not learning the lessons of the Civil Rights movement, the Feminist movement, and the very words that frame the foundation of this nation; that all men are created equal. Future generations will look back at this time and wonder at our ignorance.

I already do.

Digital Culture

Remember, remember

…the 5th of November…

Or, in the case of the US, the 7th of November. Go and vote, please…and if it helps to think of the man who, 400 years ago, used a terroristic act to get the attention of his government, instead of the current man who uses terroristic threats to remove the rights of US citizens, so be it.

It’s time for a change.

Digital Culture

One reason to vote republican

republican sticker

After a comment from a friend, I’ve decided to throw this up on Cafepress and see if anyone else thinks it’s as funny as I do. I suppose it’s one good reason to vote republican…head off and buy one! I’ll donate 10% of any proceeds to an appropriate charity (ACLU? EFF? Leave a comment if you have a suggestion as to the best charity).

I’m just hoping this doesn’t devolve into a flame-fest in the comments…I don’t think anyone reading this is particularly conservative, but you never know.

Digital Culture


from boingboing:

The Wall Street Journal has an article about a blood pressure, pulse, and sweat level measuring device being tested in US airport security checkpoints. It’s made by an Israeli Company with the delightful name of Suspect Detection Systems Ltd.

If they really want to use this to find terrorists, they’re going to have to test every single person that gets on a plane. According to the TSA, two million people fly everyday. That’s 730 million people a year. Let’s assume that 10 of them are terrorists. With a 4% false-positive rate and a 10% false-negative rate, that means 29 million innocent travelers are going to be detained as suspects, and one out of the 10 terrorists will still make it through security to conduct his or her dirty work. Is it worth it, or would the money be better spent preventing terrorism through intelligence work?

Reading this, I fully expect to sit down in one of these and have it tell me “Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about… your mother.” Is there any point which is too far for the US public? Even with the leading security experts in the world telling us these things do no good, we still allow ourselves to be placated with meaningless tribulations which do not catch terrorists. WTF?

Digital Culture

Fox news Godwin

Sometimes real life IS just like the Interweb! Watch Fox News commit a real life Godwin!

From Think Progress:

Sterling Burnett is a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, an organization that has received over $390,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998. This afternoon on Fox, Burnett compared watching Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, to watching a movie by Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels to learn about Nazi Germany.


That’s the problem. If I thought Al Gore’s movie was as you like to say, fair and balanced, I’d say, everyone should go see it. But why go see propaganda? You don’t go see Joseph Goebbels’ films to see the truth about Nazi Germany. You don’t go see Al Gore’s films to see the truth about global warming.

Digital Culture

Reply from my CongressCritter

After my post from the other day regarding the petition for net neutrality, and my participation in emailing my Congressman, I received this today:

May 5, 2006

Jason Griffey
845 Lake ODonnell Road
Sewanee, Tennessee 37375

Dear Jason:

Thank you for recently contacting me to share your views on the network neutrality telecommunications issue. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to contact me.

As you may know, the Congress is preparing to take up the Telecommunications Act reauthorization bill sometime this year. The Telecomm Rewrite, as it is known, has not been adjusted or updated since it’s original drafting in 1996. It is amazing to think about how much has changed since 1996 in the way of telecommunications- cell phones were “mobile phones” that were expensive to use and still took the backseat to traditional land line services, more often than not without service in rural areas, the internet was one fraction the information highway it is today, and much slower, and the concept of digital television or making telephone calls through your computer (known as VOIP or Voice over Internet Protocol) was nearly unheard of. We have made great strides in our telecommunications advancements.

We must not take these advancements for granted, however. As you say, the internet is a critical communications and educational tool. As Congress begins its work on the Telecommunications Act reauthorization, I will be looking out for the very concerns you mention. We must work to preserve fairness and equality to access. There are many provisions and loopholes that will require careful examination during the re-write of the legislation. I will be sure to thoroughly analyze the contents of the bill and weigh them against the interests of my constituency. As the Representative serving the fourth most rural district in the House of Representatives, I have a keen responsibility to protect and represent the small, rural folks and not the corporations. I guarantee you that I will not be beholden to the wishes of Corporate America as we work on this bill and I will work to preserve fair and non-discriminatory policies in the Telecommunications Act.

Again, thank you for contacting me. My door is always open.


Lincoln Davis
Member of Congress

While I’m completely certain I understand the importance of network neutrality in a much more detailed way than does Congressman Davis, I appreciate the response. It at least shows that he (or his aid) is aware of the issue.

Digital Culture

Gas Prices vs Politics

Inspired by an Ask Metafilter comment, I decided to track down a 2004 political map, and let people draw their own conclusions about links between votes and gas prices. What is the same about this:

2004 votes by county

And this…

2006 gas prices

See any patterns?