Monday, October 30, 2006

A little something to think about those voting machines

I found the image at The Diebold Variations, which has various others. To put things in context, Princeton researchers have just completed an independent study of Diebold voting machines. Among its findings: "Analysis of the machine, in light of real election procedures, shows that it is vulnerable to extremely serious attacks. For example, an attacker who gets physical access to a machine or its removable memory card for as little as one minute could install malicious code; malicious code on a machine could steal votes undetectably, modifying all records, logs, and counters to be consistent with the fraudulent vote count it creates" (from the abstract). Not exactly something to make a voter feel confident. Here is a story from CNN Money entitled "Rage Against the Machine" to add a bit more context. Actually, a Google news search using the terms "princeton study voting machines" will yield a good number of results for readers who may be further interested.

The images can be reused, but note they are copyrighted by their creator, (c)2004-06 Rand Careaga/salamander.eps. I think that covers it.

A hat tip to Apophenia.

It's The Matrix. . .with Muppets?

Fans of The Matrix films as well as fans of the Muppets may appreciate this short film, The Muppet Matrix, so go take a look. Starring Kermit the Frog as Neo.

A hat tip to the End of Cyberspace blog, via Corante Innovation Hub.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Yankee or Dixie talk quiz

And since it is Friday, odd are good the readers of this blog, who may number more than two by now (maybe 3?), know what that means. Yes, it's one of those online quizzes I amuse myself with once in a while. Since I posted about language today, I figured this would go along nicely. Now, how the heck they figure I have any Dixie percentage, being a nice Hispanic boy is beyond me. I did live in the Midwest for over a decade, if that helps. Anyhow, this one asks you questions about how you pronouce certain words, so I think some may find it interesting.

My result: 43% Dixie. Barely in Yankeedom.

Where the quiz can be found, y'all.

So while people in Tennesse want nothing to do with Spanish, Latin Americans flock to learn Chinese

Readers of this blog know that I always advocate for people learning other languages. Here is another example of why people may want to study other languages and cultures.

Recently, there was a little spat in Tennessee over a social studies teacher who wanted his local public library to stop buying Spanish books and materials. Oh, by the way, he also wanted to get rid of the bilingual librarian. Actually, multilingual since she is not only fluent in English and Spanish but also American Sign Language. He wanted her citizenship status checked because she has Puerto Rican parents. To reassure readers, she was actually born in New Jersey, but even if she had been born in the island, she would still be an American citizen since all Puerto Ricans are American citizens by birth. A little something called the 1917 Jones Act. I think it is one of those little details you learn in social studies classes. Well, except in that Lewisburg teacher's classroom apparently. Find the story here and here, with an opinion column on the topic here. Find the news clip here (try not cringe). So, while some people take pride in their ignorance, or at least aspire to remain ignorant, in other parts of the world, they are rushing to learn more foreign languages. And yes, I say they aspire to remain ignorant if they fail to realize that very often someone who is bilingual already speaks English as one of the two languages. They simply speak something else as well.

The Washington Post for September 22, 2006 provides a story on "Across Latin America, Mandarin is in the Air." The story is written by Juan Forero. It turns out China is broadening its trade with Latin America, and as part of those efforts they are going so far as to help fund programs in Latin America for people to learn the Mandarin Chinese. As a result, there is an incentive for people there to learn the language as there is money to be made from the business opportunities.

An excerpt from the article:

Chinese companies are investing in farmland and energy installations in Brazil. Beijing has signed a free-trade agreement with Chile, its first with a Latin American country, while announcing investments in the Chilean copper industry and gas and oil fields in Ecuador, Argentina and Bolivia. Beijing has also cemented a $5 billion oil deal with President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, which is seeking to diversify exports to other countries beyond the United States.

The arrival of China in a largely Spanish-speaking region half a world away might seem unusual. But Beijing is in a relentless quest for oil, coal, iron ore and copper for its factories, soybean and poultry to feed its 1.3 billion people, lumber for housing, and fish meal for its livestock. President Hu Jintao's government, which two years ago pledged $100 billion in investments for several South American countries, said it also wants to bankroll road, port and railroad developments that would help bring exports more quickly to China.

Veering toward China, though, is far from easy for entrepreneurs and students from a region that has long been intertwined with the giant to the north. The United States remains the biggest investor in Latin America, its trade with the region eight times that of China's. English prevails as a second language.

Mandarin, on the other hand, is considered far harder to learn, with dialects and a tenor significantly different from the phonetic cadences of Spanish and Portuguese. Yet the Chinese language is making gains, as is the revolutionary idea of looking west across the Pacific for business opportunities.

So, interesting that people in Latin America are striving to learn a language as difficult as Mandarin Chinese. Do note that they are still learning English as well. Note the example of the executive at the article's opening who is one of the many learning Chinese. She already speaks German and English. And yet in this country, any suggestion that anyone may be bilingual is met with suspicion and/or resistance. So, yet another reason to consider studying foreign languages. It may help you open new business opportunities.

A hat tip to Yale Global Online.

Update note (11/29/06): The Annoyed Librarian gives her take on the Tennessee issue in her post "Revenge of the Rubes." It lingered in a clippings folder for a while, but I finally managed to make a note of it here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

To those that would give up their liberty for some small tranquility

When I heard of the passage of the Military Commissions Act and the basic abandonment of habeas corpus, I just wondered, what else can possibly happen? I recall that old saying by Benjamin Franklin about those who give up their essential freedoms to get a little tranquility deserve neither. I usually try to stay away from politics because I tend to think there are so many people out there who can say it better than I ever could. But as time moves on, I don't know how much longer I can just stay quiet.

Recently, Keith Olbermann commented on the passage of the MCA. I missed the clip that day as it was one of the days I was working late. However, I managed to catch it later, thanks to the Internet. It was probably one of his more moving commentaries and well worth a look. The link has the transcript, but the video link was available on the site (as of this writing). As I watched the video, I kind of wonder: what exactly is it going to take before people finally wake up? Were this some other country, caudillos would already be rallying their followers to raid the capital. I am not saying anyone should start rallying followers for a raid, but for the majority of the media, who are supposed to serve as watchdogs and keep the government accountable, to simply remain silent on this, well, some of us just have to wonder. Anyways, go take a look and decide.

Hat tip to Librarian's Rant.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

For those who may still need a wake up call

I really try to keep politics out of my blogging, but I make no secret about the fact that I am not happy with the way things are run in the country. I have to admit it is getting harder to keep quiet when I see what is going on.

I came across this statement by Kevin Tillman, brother of Pat Tillman, the professional football player who enlisted in the Army and was killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire. Kevin served as well, and now recently discharged made a statement upon the coming birthday of his brother. Readers can find the complete statement over at Truthdig. I am taking the liberty of posting some excerpts, if for no other reason, with the hope that some people may start waking up and realizing it's time to change a few things around here.

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

* * * * * *

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

* * * * * *

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Some information for the flu season

The Krafty Librarian has made a post with links to information about the flu and the flu vaccine. This is very timely as the flu season is coming. So, hop on over at take a look. He notes the CDC's site on the flu and provides some other tips.

Crossposted to Alchemical Thoughts.

Almost had to swim to get back to work, but I am back safe from JCLC

I got back safely from the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color in Dallas on Sunday. It rained during the entire trip. Then it turns out Houston flooded all over the place, and the university closed down due to the flooding. For a change, they actually made the decision to close in a timely fashion. So, I am back to work today, rescheduling some classes I had to teach yesterday, prepping, and otherwise catching up again. As soon as I can, I will be posting my notes from the sessions. Best, and keep on blogging.

Crossposted from The Gypsy Librarian.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Itinerant Librarian Heads to JCLC in Dallas

I am being dragged here by the serious cousin. Apparently some professional librarians of color are getting together in Dallas. See ya all next week. Best, and keep on blogging.