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Voting machines

Computers have influenced our elections for a long time:

There was another election season, back in 1952, when a presidential contest seemed too close to call, America worried it was vulnerable to attack, and a single company dominated computing.

Those circumstances set the stage for the election night dramatics of the Univac - perhaps the most significant live TV performance ever by a computer. It might just be technology’s equivalent of the first Elvis appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Except parents didn’t worry that computers were going to destroy the moral fiber of the nation’s youth, which shows you how much parents know.

In a few hours on Nov. 4, 1952, Univac altered politics, changed the world’s perception of computers and upended the tech industry’s status quo. Along the way, it embarrassed CBS long before Dan Rather could do that all by himself.

The Republican candidate was Dwight Eisenhower. The Democrat, Adlai Stevenson. Polls showed them in a dead heat.

Their most pressing issue: an epic global struggle between democracy and communism. The Korean War had begun two years before. Joseph McCarthy’s Red Scare was in full swing, aimed at alleged communists. Several nations were testing nuclear bombs. In Denmark, George “Christine” Jorgensen had the first sex-change operation.

No telling which of those most horrified Americans.

Yahoo! News - In ‘52, huge computer called Univac changed election night

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Artists fascinate me

I heard The Valleys in the Expresso Royale by BU. I asked the barista what the album was and she told me it was Electrelane. Bought the album, but couldn’t understand the words. Found the lyrics on line; but the lyrics are really a poem by Siegfried Sassoon, rearranged and sung by a 12-person choir.

The Power Out
Robert, when I drowse to-night,
Skirting lawns of sleep to chase
Shifting dreams in mazy light,
Somewhere then I'll see your face
Turning back to bid me follow
Where I wag my arms and hollo,
Over hedges hasting after
Crooked smile and baffling laughter.
Running tireless, floating, leaping,
Down your web-hung woods and valleys,
Garden glooms and hornbeam alleys,
Where the glowworm stars are peeping,
Till I find you, quiet as stone
On a hill-top all alone,
Staring outward, gravely pondering
Jumbled leagues of hillock-wandering.

“A Letter Home” from The Old Huntsman and Other Poems, Siegfried Sassoon, 1918

How do they think this stuff up?

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Now What?

There’s nothing in the Red Sox Fan Manual on what to do now. heard on WBUR

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How to Vote

[From a left-wing, pinko, commie, organization that I am a member of; but presumably useful to everyone.]

Here are a few pointers to help make sure your voting experience is a good one:

  • Find your polling place ahead of time. Having this information ahead of time will help make sure that you can zip to the polls and back during that half-hour lunch break. You can locate your local polling place using your zip code at In most cases, the site will tell you what kind of voting machines to expect and how they work. (By the way, if conflicts with information you’ve received from your county or state election officials, use the official information.)

  • When in doubt, ASK. Poll workers are there to help you. They’ll show you how to work the machines, and if you’re at the wrong polling place, they should tell you how to get to the right one. Every polling place should also have a posted list of your voting rights, and instructions for filing a complaint if your rights have been violated.

  • Know your rights. If you’re an eligible voter, you have the following rights:

    • If your name is not on the official voter list but you believe you are eligible to vote in that precinct, even if an election official challenges your vote, you have the right to cast a “provisional ballot.”
    • If you’re in line when the polls close, you should stay in line because you’re entitled to vote.
    • In many states, your employer must allow you time to vote at some point during the day. You can’t be fired for being late due to long polling lines.
    • You have the right to vote without being intimidated by anyone.
    • For your rights in your own state, check out this website:
  • Bring photo ID, preferably government-issued ID or a utility bill, phone bill, or paycheck with your name and current street address. If you’re a new registrant, it may be required.

  • Vote in the morning. In a great majority of polling places, everything will go smoothly, but by going early you can help prevent lines later in the day.

  • A regular ballot is better than a provisional ballot. If your eligibility to vote is questioned, ask if you can cast a regular ballot by providing additional ID or by going to another polling place. Only cast a provisional ballot if there’s no alternative available.

So, what if something does go wrong?

First, document it. If there are specific individuals involved who are challenging your right to vote, intimidating voters, or interfering with the process, try to get their names. Write down exactly what happened, including the time of day, descriptions of the people involved, and any other details you can remember.

Then, report it. There are lots of organizations that will be working to respond quickly to complaints of voter intimidation, suppression, and fraud. Here’s who to call:

  • Common Cause: Call 1-866-MYVOTE1. Common Cause has set up a hotline that you can call to report any problems you have voting. They’ll document where problems are occuring, watch for wide-spread voter suppression, and provide real-time legal help to the hot spots.

  • 1-866-OUR-VOTE. This hotline has been set up by a coalition of nonpartisan groups to deal with the most serious problems on election day. They have hundreds of lawyers standing by to immediately respond to the most egregious problems. 1-866-OUR-VOTE is the “911” of voter suppression hotlines. Please don’t call unless your problem is serious enough that you have to talk to a lawyer immediately.

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Why I Won't Vote for Bush

Too many people who are way smarter than I am think he is just plain wrong:

The prosperity, health, environment, and security of Americans depend on Presidential leadership to sustain our vibrant science and technology; to encourage education at home and attract talented scientists and engineers from abroad; and to nurture a business environment that transforms new knowledge into new opportunities for creating quality jobs and reaching shared goals.

President Bush and his administration are compromising our future on each of these counts. By reducing funding for scientific research, they are undermining the foundation of America’s future. By setting unwarranted restrictions on stem cell research, they are impeding medical advances. By employing inappropriate immigration practices, they are turning critical scientific talent away from our shores. And by ignoring scientific consensus on critical issues such as global warming, they are threatening the earth’s future. Unlike previous administrations, Republican and Democratic alike, the Bush administration has ignored unbiased scientific advice in the policy-making that is so important to our collective welfare.

Scientists and Engineers For Change - The Nobel Letter

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leg- (to choose)

From a email list I receive:

In just two weeks, United States citizens will vote for their next president. The US presidential election is one event that determines the fate of not just one country but also of much of the rest of the world.

If you think about it, it’s astounding how one office can have so much power over the lives of so many — power that can be used as the winner chooses: to make a difference in the people’s lives or to brush them aside.

The word election comes from the Indo-European root leg- (to choose) that is also the source of such words as intelligent, diligent, logic, dialog, and legal. In fact, that’s probably not a bad way to choose a candidate: one who is intelligent, one who is diligent in solving problems, one who uses logic, one who prefers to engage in a dialog, and one who employs legal means.

If you’re a United States citizen, make your vote count this November 2. Be informed. Think of the country. Think of the world. And vote with your conscience. In the meantime, enjoy this week’s words from the world of politics and elections.

My name is Anu Garg and I approve of this message.

A.Word.A.Day — Archives

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Finally an actual use for text messaging. If you send a text message to 46645 (GOOGL), like

define quisling

Google will text you back with the answer.

Google SMS

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Laszlo is now Open Source. The Laszlo Platform, which is the LZX language and the Laszlo Presentation Server, are now open source. You can download and install the Laszlo Platform for free, and you can develop and deploy Laszlo applications for free.

How do we make money doing that? The same way lots of companies are now: by providing service, support, and commercial development on top of that platform.

The ptunes widget to the left, that shows what I am listening to in iTunes is an example of a simple Laszlo application. For examples of commercial applications using Laszlo, visit Laszlo Systems, Inc.

For more information on Laszlo’s open source platform visit Open Laszlo.

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EOLAS, part Deux

Kodak wins Java lawsuit

It returns to court next week to seek $1.06 billion in damages from Sun

[…] Rochester’s largest employer claimed during a three-week trial that portions of Java infringed on patents Kodak purchased from Wang Laboratories Inc. in late 1997. The patents describe a method by which a program can “ask for help” from another application to carry out certain computer-oriented functions. That’s generally similar to the way Java operates, according to Kodak and other experts. […]

Democrat & Chronicle: Kodak wins Java Lawsuit

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