Thursday, July 12, 2012

Short Takes

Another high-level Syrian has defected.

Secretary of State Clinton visited Laos, the first high-ranking U.S. diplomat to do that since the end of the Vietnam war.

A federal judge has kept the injunction against the new Mississippi anti-abortion bill in place.

The president of Florida A&M has resigned in the wake of the hazing death scandal.

Need a job? London needs 3,500 more security guards for the Olympics.

Florida schools brace for the FCAT results.

Family matters — Weird things happen when rich people get divorced.

Short Takes

Another high-level Syrian has defected.

Secretary of State Clinton visited Laos, the first high-ranking U.S. diplomat to do that since the end of the Vietnam war.

A federal judge has kept the injunction against the new Mississippi anti-abortion bill in place.

The president of Florida A&M has resigned in the wake of the hazing death scandal.

Need a job? London needs 3,500 more security guards for the Olympics.

Florida schools brace for the FCAT results.

Family matters — Weird things happen when rich people get divorced.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Keep Digging

It never goes away, does it?

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Lawyers for President Barack Obama and Gov. Rick Scott’s administration asked a judge Monday to dismiss a ballot challenge that alleges Obama is not a “natural born citizen.”

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis did not immediately rule. He gave lawyers on both sides a week to submit proposed orders.

The lawsuit by Fort Lauderdale automobile salesman Michael Voeltz asks that Obama be removed from the state’s 2012 ballot.

Attorneys for the Democratic president and the Florida Department of State under the Republican governor argued that can’t be done because Obama hasn’t yet been nominated. Obama lawyer Mark Herron also told Lewis that federal law precludes state courts from determining the qualifications of presidential candidates.

Conservative legal activist Larry Klayman, who is representing Voeltz, questioned Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate and contended that even if the president was born in the United States he still is not a natural citizen because his father was a foreign national.

Klayman later said U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who is considered as a potential vice presidential nominee, also wouldn’t qualify because his parents weren’t U.S. citizens when he was born.

Keep Digging

It never goes away, does it?

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Lawyers for President Barack Obama and Gov. Rick Scott’s administration asked a judge Monday to dismiss a ballot challenge that alleges Obama is not a “natural born citizen.”

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis did not immediately rule. He gave lawyers on both sides a week to submit proposed orders.

The lawsuit by Fort Lauderdale automobile salesman Michael Voeltz asks that Obama be removed from the state’s 2012 ballot.

Attorneys for the Democratic president and the Florida Department of State under the Republican governor argued that can’t be done because Obama hasn’t yet been nominated. Obama lawyer Mark Herron also told Lewis that federal law precludes state courts from determining the qualifications of presidential candidates.

Conservative legal activist Larry Klayman, who is representing Voeltz, questioned Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate and contended that even if the president was born in the United States he still is not a natural citizen because his father was a foreign national.

Klayman later said U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who is considered as a potential vice presidential nominee, also wouldn’t qualify because his parents weren’t U.S. citizens when he was born.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Reading

Sounds Familiar — Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic remembers those old tech sounds.

Of all the noises that my children will not understand, the one that is nearest to my heart is not from a song or a television show or a jingle. It’s the sound of a modem connecting with another modem across the repurposed telephone infrastructure. It was the noise of being part of the beginning of the Internet.

I heard that sound again this week on Brendan Chillcut’s simple and wondrous site: The Museum of Endangered Sounds. It takes technological objects and lets you relive the noises they made: Tetris, the Windows 95 startup chime, that Nokia ringtone, television static. The site archives not just the intentional sounds — ringtones, etc — but the incidental ones, like the mechanical noise a VHS tape made when it entered the VCR or the way a portable CD player sounded when it skipped. If you grew up at a certain time, these sounds are like technoaural nostalgia whippets. One minute, you’re browsing the Internet in 2012, the next you’re on a bus headed up I-5 to an 8th grade football game against Castle Rock in 1995.

The noises our technologies make, as much as any music, are the soundtrack to an era. Soundscapes are not static; completely new sets of frequencies arrive, old things go. Locomotives rumbled their way through the landscapes of 19th century New England, interrupting Nathaniel Hawthorne-types’ reveries in Sleepy Hollows. A city used to be synonymous with the sound of horse hooves and the clatter of carriages on the stone streets. Imagine the people who first heard the clicks of a bike wheel or the vroom of a car engine. It’s no accident that early films featuring industrial work often include shots of steam whistles, even though in many (say, Metropolis) we can’t hear that whistle.You could feel two things trying to come into sync: Were those things computers or were they actually me and my version of the world? Everyone knew what it sounded like and how big the changes it signaled were.

When I think of 2012, I will think of the overworked fan of my laptop and the ding of getting a text message on my iPhone. I will think of the beep of the FastTrak in my car as it debits my credit card so I can pass through a toll onto the Golden Gate Bridge. I will think of Siri’s uncanny valley voice.

But to me, all of those sounds — as symbols of the era in which I’ve come up — remain secondary to the hissing and crackling of the modem handshake. I first heard that sound as a nine-year-old. To this day, I can’t remember how I figured out how to dial the modem of our old Zenith. Even more mysterious is how I found the BBS number to call or even knew what a BBS was. But I did. BBS were dial-in communities, kind of like a local AOL. You could post messages and play games, even chat with people on the bigger BBSs. It was personal: sometimes, you’d be the only person connected to that community. Other times, there’d be one other person, who was almost definitely within your local prefix.

Click on the link to take a stroll down sounds’ memory lane.

Green and Gay — An iconic comic book star comes out.

Green Lantern, one of DC Comics’ oldest and most enduring heroes, is serving as a beacon for the publisher again, this time as a proud, mighty and openly gay hero.

The change is revealed in the pages of the second issue of “Earth 2” out next week, and comes on the heels of what has been an expansive year for gay and lesbian characters in the pages of comic books from Archie to Marvel and others.

But purists and fans note: This Green Lantern is not the emerald galactic space cop Hal Jordan who was, and is, part of the Justice League and has had a history rich in triumph and tragedy.

Instead, he’s a parallel earth Green Lantern. James Robinson, who writes the new series, said Alan Scott is the retooled version of the classic Lantern whose first appearance came in the pages of “All-American Comics” No. 16 in July 1940.

And his being gay is not part of some wider story line meant to be exploited or undone down the road, either.

“This was my idea,” Robinson explained this week, noting that before DC relaunched all its titles last summer, Alan Scott had a son who was gay.

But given “Earth 2” features retooled and rebooted characters, Scott is not old enough to have a grown son.

“By making him younger, that son was not going to exist anymore,” Robinson said.

“He doesn’t come out. He’s gay when we see him in issue two,” which is due out Wednesday. “He’s fearless and he’s honest to the point where he realized he was gay and he said ‘I’m gay.’”

It’s another example of gay and lesbian characters taking more prominent roles in the medium.

In May, Marvel Entertainment said super speedster Northstar will marry his longtime boyfriend in the pages of “Astonishing X-Men.” DC comics has other gay characters, too, including Kate Kane, the current Batwoman, The Question, and married characters Apollo and the Midnighter.

And in the pages of Archie Comics, Kevin Keller is one of the gang at Riverdale High School and gay, too.

Must Be Miami — Carl Hiaasen takes a look at the face-eating zombie.

All of us who live in Florida struggle to explain this bizarre place to distant friends and family.

The task got somewhat easier after the 2000 presidential election, which showcased the state’s unique style of dysfunction to a vast international audience. Since then, people who live elsewhere seem not so easily mortified by anything that happens here.

Take the dreadful case of the naked cannibal.

I’d be willing to bet that in no other city but Miami would the following quote appear matter-of-factly in a crime story: “Rudy was not a face-eating zombie monster.”

Those words come from a high school friend of Rudy Eugene, who chewed the flesh off a homeless man’s face on Memorial Day weekend. Eugene first removed his own clothes and then tore off the trousers of his victim, 65-year-old Ronald Poppo.

The gruesome biting attack, reported by passers-by, took about 18 minutes. It didn’t end until Eugene was shot dead by a policeman and physically separated from the gravely injured Poppo.

All this occurred on a Saturday morning on a ramp of the MacArthur Causeway, practically within fast-break distance of the American Airlines Arena where the Miami Heat plays.

Doonesbury — Vetting.

Sunday Reading

Sounds Familiar — Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic remembers those old tech sounds.

Of all the noises that my children will not understand, the one that is nearest to my heart is not from a song or a television show or a jingle. It’s the sound of a modem connecting with another modem across the repurposed telephone infrastructure. It was the noise of being part of the beginning of the Internet.

I heard that sound again this week on Brendan Chillcut’s simple and wondrous site: The Museum of Endangered Sounds. It takes technological objects and lets you relive the noises they made: Tetris, the Windows 95 startup chime, that Nokia ringtone, television static. The site archives not just the intentional sounds — ringtones, etc — but the incidental ones, like the mechanical noise a VHS tape made when it entered the VCR or the way a portable CD player sounded when it skipped. If you grew up at a certain time, these sounds are like technoaural nostalgia whippets. One minute, you’re browsing the Internet in 2012, the next you’re on a bus headed up I-5 to an 8th grade football game against Castle Rock in 1995.

The noises our technologies make, as much as any music, are the soundtrack to an era. Soundscapes are not static; completely new sets of frequencies arrive, old things go. Locomotives rumbled their way through the landscapes of 19th century New England, interrupting Nathaniel Hawthorne-types’ reveries in Sleepy Hollows. A city used to be synonymous with the sound of horse hooves and the clatter of carriages on the stone streets. Imagine the people who first heard the clicks of a bike wheel or the vroom of a car engine. It’s no accident that early films featuring industrial work often include shots of steam whistles, even though in many (say, Metropolis) we can’t hear that whistle.You could feel two things trying to come into sync: Were those things computers or were they actually me and my version of the world? Everyone knew what it sounded like and how big the changes it signaled were.

When I think of 2012, I will think of the overworked fan of my laptop and the ding of getting a text message on my iPhone. I will think of the beep of the FastTrak in my car as it debits my credit card so I can pass through a toll onto the Golden Gate Bridge. I will think of Siri’s uncanny valley voice.

But to me, all of those sounds — as symbols of the era in which I’ve come up — remain secondary to the hissing and crackling of the modem handshake. I first heard that sound as a nine-year-old. To this day, I can’t remember how I figured out how to dial the modem of our old Zenith. Even more mysterious is how I found the BBS number to call or even knew what a BBS was. But I did. BBS were dial-in communities, kind of like a local AOL. You could post messages and play games, even chat with people on the bigger BBSs. It was personal: sometimes, you’d be the only person connected to that community. Other times, there’d be one other person, who was almost definitely within your local prefix.

Click on the link to take a stroll down sounds’ memory lane.

Green and Gay — An iconic comic book star comes out.

Green Lantern, one of DC Comics’ oldest and most enduring heroes, is serving as a beacon for the publisher again, this time as a proud, mighty and openly gay hero.

The change is revealed in the pages of the second issue of “Earth 2” out next week, and comes on the heels of what has been an expansive year for gay and lesbian characters in the pages of comic books from Archie to Marvel and others.

But purists and fans note: This Green Lantern is not the emerald galactic space cop Hal Jordan who was, and is, part of the Justice League and has had a history rich in triumph and tragedy.

Instead, he’s a parallel earth Green Lantern. James Robinson, who writes the new series, said Alan Scott is the retooled version of the classic Lantern whose first appearance came in the pages of “All-American Comics” No. 16 in July 1940.

And his being gay is not part of some wider story line meant to be exploited or undone down the road, either.

“This was my idea,” Robinson explained this week, noting that before DC relaunched all its titles last summer, Alan Scott had a son who was gay.

But given “Earth 2” features retooled and rebooted characters, Scott is not old enough to have a grown son.

“By making him younger, that son was not going to exist anymore,” Robinson said.

“He doesn’t come out. He’s gay when we see him in issue two,” which is due out Wednesday. “He’s fearless and he’s honest to the point where he realized he was gay and he said ‘I’m gay.’”

It’s another example of gay and lesbian characters taking more prominent roles in the medium.

In May, Marvel Entertainment said super speedster Northstar will marry his longtime boyfriend in the pages of “Astonishing X-Men.” DC comics has other gay characters, too, including Kate Kane, the current Batwoman, The Question, and married characters Apollo and the Midnighter.

And in the pages of Archie Comics, Kevin Keller is one of the gang at Riverdale High School and gay, too.

Must Be Miami — Carl Hiaasen takes a look at the face-eating zombie.

All of us who live in Florida struggle to explain this bizarre place to distant friends and family.

The task got somewhat easier after the 2000 presidential election, which showcased the state’s unique style of dysfunction to a vast international audience. Since then, people who live elsewhere seem not so easily mortified by anything that happens here.

Take the dreadful case of the naked cannibal.

I’d be willing to bet that in no other city but Miami would the following quote appear matter-of-factly in a crime story: “Rudy was not a face-eating zombie monster.”

Those words come from a high school friend of Rudy Eugene, who chewed the flesh off a homeless man’s face on Memorial Day weekend. Eugene first removed his own clothes and then tore off the trousers of his victim, 65-year-old Ronald Poppo.

The gruesome biting attack, reported by passers-by, took about 18 minutes. It didn’t end until Eugene was shot dead by a policeman and physically separated from the gravely injured Poppo.

All this occurred on a Saturday morning on a ramp of the MacArthur Causeway, practically within fast-break distance of the American Airlines Arena where the Miami Heat plays.

Doonesbury — Vetting.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Short Takes

Dozens of children have been killed in attacks in Syria.

Iran is not ready for visitors to inspect their nukes.

The butler did it — The Vatican is in chaos after the pope’s butler has been arrested for leaks.

Gruesome — Miami Police were forced to kill a naked man chewing on another man’s face.

Tropical Update: Beryl could barrel through Jacksonville.

The Tigers win against the Twins.

Short Takes

Dozens of children have been killed in attacks in Syria.

Iran is not ready for visitors to inspect their nukes.

The butler did it — The Vatican is in chaos after the pope’s butler has been arrested for leaks.

Gruesome — Miami Police were forced to kill a naked man chewing on another man’s face.

Tropical Update: Beryl could barrel through Jacksonville.

The Tigers win against the Twins.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Short Takes

Not looking good — The Eurozone crisis continues.

Slow Progress — Talks with Iran about their nuclear program didn’t have a breakthrough.

Poll: Obama leads in Florida, Virginia, and Ohio.

A very cold case may be closed.

Diplomatic Corpse — Rick Scott embarrasses the King of Spain.

It better have a good view — $25 million for a condo in South Beach.

Tropical Update: Invest 94 passed by South Florida

The Tigers lose yet again to the Indians.

Short Takes

Not looking good — The Eurozone crisis continues.

Slow Progress — Talks with Iran about their nuclear program didn’t have a breakthrough.

Poll: Obama leads in Florida, Virginia, and Ohio.

A very cold case may be closed.

Diplomatic Corpse — Rick Scott embarrasses the King of Spain.

It better have a good view — $25 million for a condo in South Beach.

Tropical Update: Invest 94 passed by South Florida

The Tigers lose yet again to the Indians.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Today In Darwinism

Via MSNBC:

Members of a white supremacist skinhead group called American Front trained with AK-47s, shotguns and explosives at a fortified compound in central Florida to prepare for what its reputed leader believed to be an “inevitable race war,” prosecutors said Tuesday.

According to court documents, members of American Front discussed acts of violence that included causing “a disturbance” at City Hall in Orlando, shooting at a house and attacking an anti-racist skinhead group.

At least 10 members of the group, which authorities described as a militia-styled, anti-Semitic domestic terrorist organization, have been arrested in Florida since the weekend, including at least three people on Tuesday.

The felony arrest charges include paramilitary training, attempting to shoot into an occupied dwelling, and evidence of prejudices while committing an offense. The last charge falls under Florida’s hate-crimes law.

Looking at the mugshots, if these are the people in who will be fighting the “inevitable race war,” you gotta think they couldn’t win a race to the bathroom.

Today In Darwinism

Via MSNBC:

Members of a white supremacist skinhead group called American Front trained with AK-47s, shotguns and explosives at a fortified compound in central Florida to prepare for what its reputed leader believed to be an “inevitable race war,” prosecutors said Tuesday.

According to court documents, members of American Front discussed acts of violence that included causing “a disturbance” at City Hall in Orlando, shooting at a house and attacking an anti-racist skinhead group.

At least 10 members of the group, which authorities described as a militia-styled, anti-Semitic domestic terrorist organization, have been arrested in Florida since the weekend, including at least three people on Tuesday.

The felony arrest charges include paramilitary training, attempting to shoot into an occupied dwelling, and evidence of prejudices while committing an offense. The last charge falls under Florida’s hate-crimes law.

Looking at the mugshots, if these are the people in who will be fighting the “inevitable race war,” you gotta think they couldn’t win a race to the bathroom.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bait and Switch — Updated

From the Miami Herald, Gov. Rick Scott steps on the Calle Ocho rake.

Gov. Rick Scott began Tuesday morning as the darling of Miami’s Cuban exile community, but by day’s end he was being vilified for the way he handled a bill cracking down on companies that do business with Cuba and Syria.

Shortly after praising their fellow Republican for signing the law at the historic Freedom Tower, Cuban-American lawmakers at the event learned Scott issued a letter that essentially declared the law unenforceable.

The lawmakers — members of Congress, legislators and local commissioners — said Scott blindsided them and undermined the legislation, which prohibits state and local taxpayers from hiring firms that do work in Cuba and Syria. Multi-national firms and the Florida Chamber of Commerce worry about the law’s potential impact.

After a heated telephone conversation with Scott, Congressman David Rivera said he was ready to take the governor to court.

Y’see, there’s this little matter of the United States Constitution, which delegates the power of foreign relations solely to the president and the federal government. States are not supposed to unilaterally decide who citizens can or cannot trade with. That’s a minor detail to the hard-core Cubans in Miami who still think they can dictate foreign policy from the patio of the Versailles restaurant, and since Gov. Scott is eager to exploit them for his image boosting, they got suckered in. Hilarity ensues.

Update: Never mind.

Bait and Switch — Updated

From the Miami Herald, Gov. Rick Scott steps on the Calle Ocho rake.

Gov. Rick Scott began Tuesday morning as the darling of Miami’s Cuban exile community, but by day’s end he was being vilified for the way he handled a bill cracking down on companies that do business with Cuba and Syria.

Shortly after praising their fellow Republican for signing the law at the historic Freedom Tower, Cuban-American lawmakers at the event learned Scott issued a letter that essentially declared the law unenforceable.

The lawmakers — members of Congress, legislators and local commissioners — said Scott blindsided them and undermined the legislation, which prohibits state and local taxpayers from hiring firms that do work in Cuba and Syria. Multi-national firms and the Florida Chamber of Commerce worry about the law’s potential impact.

After a heated telephone conversation with Scott, Congressman David Rivera said he was ready to take the governor to court.

Y’see, there’s this little matter of the United States Constitution, which delegates the power of foreign relations solely to the president and the federal government. States are not supposed to unilaterally decide who citizens can or cannot trade with. That’s a minor detail to the hard-core Cubans in Miami who still think they can dictate foreign policy from the patio of the Versailles restaurant, and since Gov. Scott is eager to exploit them for his image boosting, they got suckered in. Hilarity ensues.

Update: Never mind.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Short Takes

Stealthy move — U.S. stations stealth fighters near Iran.

New photos show work is going on at North Korea’s nuclear site.

Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese activist who escaped from house arrest is under U.S. protection in Beijing.

Mitt Romney has a solution for the high cost of college: borrow the money from your parents. Seriously.

The House passed CISPA, the new cybersecurity bill, even though a veto is promised.

George Zimmerman remains out on bail despite having over $200,000 in cash.

Would you eat at a place called “Fuku”?

The Tigers remain in the slump, losing to the Yankees.

Short Takes

Stealthy move — U.S. stations stealth fighters near Iran.

New photos show work is going on at North Korea’s nuclear site.

Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese activist who escaped from house arrest is under U.S. protection in Beijing.

Mitt Romney has a solution for the high cost of college: borrow the money from your parents. Seriously.

The House passed CISPA, the new cybersecurity bill, even though a veto is promised.

George Zimmerman remains out on bail despite having over $200,000 in cash.

Would you eat at a place called “Fuku”?

The Tigers remain in the slump, losing to the Yankees.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Short Takes

The Syrian cease-fire isn’t stopping some shelling of Homs.

North Korea may try a nuke test just to prove they’re not complete losers after their missile fizzled.

Meanwhile, Iran is talking about their nuclear plans.

It could be a stormy weekend in Oklahoma and the Midwest.

They’ve got a secret — Some Secret Service agents are in trouble for consorting with prostitutes while advancing the president’s trip to Colombia.

Oil prices are falling, which is a good thing.

The downside of the tourism industry: drunken asshole teenagers from Indiana.

The Tigers lost on the road to the White Sox.

Short Takes

The Syrian cease-fire isn’t stopping some shelling of Homs.

North Korea may try a nuke test just to prove they’re not complete losers after their missile fizzled.

Meanwhile, Iran is talking about their nuclear plans.

It could be a stormy weekend in Oklahoma and the Midwest.

They’ve got a secret — Some Secret Service agents are in trouble for consorting with prostitutes while advancing the president’s trip to Colombia.

Oil prices are falling, which is a good thing.

The downside of the tourism industry: drunken asshole teenagers from Indiana.

The Tigers lost on the road to the White Sox.