Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries from July 2007

“Yours now sort-of expertly”: Blogging from my email outbox

July 30th, 2007 · 2 Comments

Hey, I made yesterday’s Concord Monitor!

Most of the editing to [potential US Senate candidate Jeanne] Shaheen’s Wikipedia profile has related to Iraq: Either adding or removing tidbits about her support for the war in 2002 or adding information about her criticism of the war since then.

Among the more notable edits: Someone working from a D.C.-area computer posted a link of the Shaheen YouTube clip to Wikipedia. (We checked – it appears not to have come from a Senate computer. The other Wikipedia editing conducted from that computer involved touching up the definition of “APR.”)

Then liberal blogger Betsy Devine got involved and snuffed out some of the newer additions to Shaheen’s profile, including the video link.

A sort of wiki-expert who has spoken at conferences and the like, Devine explained her doings this way: “Statements from right-wing think tanks or right-wing newspaper editorials denouncing Shaheen are not appropriate news sources. If they are introduced as examples of opinion or controversy, the opposing POV must get equal exposure. Campaign puffery is of course also inappropriate.”

Heh–well, when I rough-drafted that into a Wikipedia discussion page, I didn’t expect it to end up in dead-tree newsprint.

Yours now sort-of expertly,

p.s. The new Simpsons Movie is really fun and funny–Frank and I are now baffled by its lukewarm reviews.

p.p.s. Thanks to Dean Barker at Blue Hampshire— without whom I would never have seen this story.

Tags: Editorial · New Hampshire! · wikipedia

Giant security hole for 2008 voting

July 30th, 2007 · Comments Off on Giant security hole for 2008 voting

People voting in Cambridge, MA, November 7, 2006

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Just in: California’s test of its paperless voting machines show that all are hackable, reports Ars Technica.

The news comes less than a week after Senate Democrats declared it’s “too late” to demand paper trails for 2008.


Paper-trail legislation has been creeping through Congress since Rush Holt introduced it in 2003. Holt re-introduced, citing vote irregularities in Ohio, after the 2004 Presidential election.

Despite many co-sponsors, the bill couldn’t get out of committee, thanks to Representative Bob (“Friend of Diebold”) Ney (R-Ohio), more widely known for mandating Freedom Fries.

It’s more than a year from now until November of 2008. That’s time enough for black-hat hackers to create and offer up for sale the kinds of code tricks California researchers identified–many of which require no more access than a few minutes privacy with one machine. The kind of privacy that you expect when you’re voting.

It ought to be time for the Democrats we just elected to make sure that all votes will be counted fairly in 2008. That’s much more important than investigating Gonzales.

Update: It turns out the Democrats agree–and (even before I wrote this blogpost) had already crafted a compromise bill to for secure voting in 2008.

Tags: Editorial · politics · voting

Another cool summer recipe from Funadium

July 28th, 2007 · Comments Off on Another cool summer recipe from Funadium

Photorecipe: Schrödinger tomatoes

Originally uploaded by funadium

Some nights it’s almost too hot to think about food–except for maybe something cold yet spicy like Funadium’s latest photorecipe.

Disclosure–I blogged another Funadium photorecipe, some fusilli called “Waves and particles” and he mailed me some fun Funadium swag from Italy. That was a surprise, not something I was expecting, and I don’t crave more swag for any future blogpost. I just try to blog stuff I think blogreaders will enjoy.

Why are these chili-topped tomatoes named after Erwin Schrödinger? Read the explanation yourself, but try not to lose your appetite when you get to the part about chocolate with bruschetta!

Tags: food · Metablogging · Wide wonderful world

If dogs told bedtime stories to their puppies

July 25th, 2007 · Comments Off on If dogs told bedtime stories to their puppies

2007 My little sister Ri and her little white dog

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

  • “So the fairy godmother rewarded the good little puppy by giving her a magic box that would always be full of dog biscuits.”
  • “And then the beautiful princess said, “Who wants to come with me? I feel like going for another walk!”
  • “Once upon a time there was a handsome but clumsy prince who couldn’t help dropping food onto the floor.”

Thanks to my sis for that last line, and to her dog for lots of inspiration!

Tags: funny · Wide wonderful world

One small bing for science, one big bang for blogging

July 24th, 2007 · Comments Off on One small bing for science, one big bang for blogging

Frank and Betsy and a bit of CMS

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

File this under W for Wow-I-never-thought-I’d-see-this.

Big article in today’s NYT on the interplay of science discoveries and wild rumors. And…blogs are a big part of the current “God-particle” kerfluffle.

“It is exciting even if you think the chances of it being true are only 0 or 10 percent,” said Tommaso Dorigo, from the University of Padua in Italy, who helped spread the D Zero rumor in June on his blog, A Quantum Diaries Survivor.

Wow, the NY Times expects its readers will know what a blog is.

I do wish, though, that science articles didn’t lean on sports metaphors so heavily. The exciting thing about the Higgs boson is the science, not the “race” to be first to see it.

Tags: Metablogging · Science · Wide wonderful world

Phone-jammer James Tobin will face new trial

July 23rd, 2007 · Comments Off on Phone-jammer James Tobin will face new trial

MiniElephant: Elephant, labeled "GOP Phone Jammer Follies", crushing telephone. The slow-walk of justice for Republican wrongdoers has been setting some kind of a record in NH.
Tiny blurb in Thursday’s Union Leader:

A new trial for accused 2002 GOP phone jamming conspirator James Tobin is expected in either December or January. Tobin’s conviction on phone harassment and conspiracy charges was reversed by a federal appeals court in March and remanded to the trial court… Briefs will begin to be filed in September.

So–federal crime in November, 2002 as paid professional staffers for the NH Republican State Committee and the RNC conspire to jam Democrats’ phones on Election Day. Eventually, one FBI agent in Boston is told to look into this on a part-time basis, but instructed not to follow up on leads to Washington, DC because “other agents” will cover such leads. Such leads, if followed by anyone, yield no indictments, testimony, or the slightest evidence that other FBI agents worked on the case.

Wait two years
In 2004, James Tobin was serving as New England chair for the Bush/Cheney campaign when hints of his phone-jamming role leaked into the press. Conveniently, he was not indicted until December, 2004, more than two years after the phone-jamming. It took only a few days from Tobin’s indictment until millions of dollars from the RNC started flowing that month into payments for his defense lawyers. But…
Wait a year
… it took another year for the case to come to trial. Tobin was found guilty in December, 2005 by 12 NH jurors. And Tobin’s lawyers, within a few days, had transformed their hundreds of pages of objections into multiple appeals of Tobin’s conviction.
Wait a year
In January, 2007, a bizarre spectacle played out in Federal Appeals Court in Boston–watching it unfold, I predicted that Tobin’s conviction would be overturned–as it was, on very narrow procedural grounds, in March, 2007. The judgment clearly stated that Tobin could be re-tried.
Moving comparatively quickly, when events in March get some follow-up in July!
So now, it seems, in December 2007 or January 2008, NH will re-try Mr. Tobin. Will he finally take the stand and respond to some questions about the crime that took place more than five years in the past? Will the many links from Mr. Tobin to his bosses in Washington, DC get any exploration? Will the lonnnggg slow-walk of the phone-jamming case finally speed up now that a pardon from Bush would need to come before January of 2008?
Wait a few more months…
…and these questions will be answered.

Tags: Editorial · New Hampshire!

Science and fairy tales, together at last!

July 20th, 2007 · Comments Off on Science and fairy tales, together at last!

Elves: Garth Williams illustration of elves and fairies

“I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale.” (Said Marie Curie, and thanks to the Quotations Page for this quote.)

Long before Harry Potter, I spent many happy hours reading my way systematically through the entire “Fairy Tales” bookcase in the Manchester, NH public library. That science could be lovely was something I never imagined, although I do remember one family gathering in our late-night back yard, when we waited with wonder for tiny bright Sputnik to swing through the familiar starfield.

Growing older is great when it adds to our enchantments!

Tags: Wide wonderful world

Useful: 101 quick dinner ideas for summer

July 20th, 2007 · Comments Off on Useful: 101 quick dinner ideas for summer

Smoked salmon with horseradish-flavored whipped cream

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Mmm, restaurant food–but that quickly gets old.

My quick-dinner fall-back, which I learned about in the Netherlands, is handfuls of mixed chopped vegetables tossed into the boiling water when I’m cooking pasta. Top with pesto or nuke some chunky red sauce in the microwave.

Today’s NYT has 101 more ideas, including an easy recipe for gazpacho.

Tags: food · Go go go · Useful · Wide wonderful world

Harry Potter and the grown-up who just couldn’t wait

July 19th, 2007 · 1 Comment

potter.190 The official magical moment is July 21, but….one noted grown-up author won’t win any points toward the Hogwarts Prize for Patience.

Less than 24 hours after getting her hands on a pre-release copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pulitzer-Prize-winning highbrow NY Times critic Michiko Kakutani had managed to scarf down her entire bookful and blast out a glowing review, said to have irked JK Rowling enormously.

The Guardian says Kakutani’s review contains “little more than hints.” Not really. I recommend staying away from Kakutani’s survey of plot points if you’re planning to enjoy JK Rowling’s surprises. But surely even a child would understand that.

The magical hopes and feelings of underage readers aren’t really at risk here, despite the indignant hype being spun into gold by big Potter-profiit PR teams.

I think it’s lovely that Rowling has written a book that once again respects and satisfies young people’s magical wishes–and cute that Kakutani couldn’t wait to tell us so.

Tags: Wide wonderful world

Good and bad of outsourcing to “miscellaneous”

July 18th, 2007 · 2 Comments

Crowdsourcing” is the brand-newest bizbuzzword–replacing its much unloved sibling “user-generated content.” Is it the best thing since build-your-own-sundaes–or a sinister cult that threatens civilization?

Well, any bizbuzzword is born to be treated in soundbites, and I’ve got one for you–thanks to Jay Rosen (whom I met at the 2003 (first) BloggerCon) just posted one that has real information content, quoting James Surowiecki:

…collective wisdom is a good way of coming up with an answer when there is a right or wrong answer (in a kind of Platonic sense)…
I’m not sure, though, that the same can be said about a question like: Which movie is better? There may be no Platonic truth of aesthetics…

So crowdsourcing might be good for some things, not so good for others? Bzzt–I don’t think that answer’s going to please either camp.

Bonus miscellanea–One of many favorite David Weinberger quotes, from Bloggercon 2003 years before Everything is Miscellaneous: “Is it the opinion of the panel that weblogging is a life skill, and everyone should learn it? Or is it like singing, that not everybody should do it in public?”

Tags: everythingismiscellaneous