Name Marco Von Ballmoos
Member since
Email [hidden]
Home page http://earthli.com/users/marco

The (only) developer at earthli.com.


2438 Articles

19 years Ago

King George

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Looks like the war on terror will need some modifications to the U.S. court system to remove inconveniences that might result in a not-guilty verdict. Enter military tribunals.

<q>The tribunals Mr. Bush envisions are a breathtaking departure from due process. He alone will decide who should come before these courts. The military prosecutors and judges who determine the fate of defendants will all report to him as commander in chief. Cases can be heard in secret. Hearsay, and evidence that... [More]

Ban this, ban that

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Lynne Cheney, the Vice President Dick Cheney’s wife is doing her part for the war effort. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which she founded, has come out with a report (PDF Format) called Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America and What Can Be Done About It, which contains over 100 quotes from university professors which are deemed unpatriotic. There’s an article called Conservatives Denounce Dissent at Common Dreams and a discussion at Plastic (once... [More]

Happy Thanksgiving

Published on in earthli.com

I’ve caved in to user demand (that’s right, 1 user) and gone seasonal again. Enjoy the Thanksgiving theme. (if you don’t use [default] colors, then choose it from the settings menus.)

Why does the “war on terror” need spin?

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Basically, if this ‘War on Terror’ is so simple, why the need for spin? AlterNet published Why Bush Needs to Spin the War. The basic issues of current events are being dictated to us in a fashion suitable for kindergartners. How many people are sick of the word ‘evildoers’? In the same vein, The Newsday has an opinion piece discussing the increasing involvement of ad execs and Hollywood in the PR campaign for this war.

From the Online Journal comes a piece called The Greatest Sedition is... [More]

Stop Using IE

Published on in Technology

There are two announcements from the last couple of days that nicely dovetail. The first is form Microsoft:

Microsoft has admitted (though not very publicly) that IE has another easily-exploitable hole in its cookie security that allows:

<q>A malicious web site with a malformed URL could read the contents of a user’s cookie which might contain personal information. In addition, it is possible to alter the contents of the cookie. This URL could be hosted on a web page or contained in an HTML... [More]

Separation of business and government

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

SFGate reports that a federal appeals court has determined that the $5 Billion punitive damages levied against Exxon for the Valdez disaster are “excessive”.

<q>Exxon, which later merged with Mobil, argued that it shouldn’t have to pay any punitive damages. The oil giant said it learned its lesson and spent more than $3 billion cleaning up the Prince William Sound area and to settle federal and state lawsuits. … R.J. Kopchak, 52, a fisherman in Cordova near the oil spill, said there are no... [More]

Collect them all

Published on in Fun

Here’s some new products (12) that are both excellent Christmas presents and a sound investment. Are they real? Are they fake? You figure it out.

Chew before swallowing

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Mark Morford, of SF Gate has published Evil Evildoers of Evil: How to feel calmly patriotic and yet not be slightly reassured by Bush & Co..

<q>There is more than one way to respond to the horror of Sept. 11. And there is more than one kind of patriotism. We forget this. … Pro-America does not mean pro-war. Or pro-Bush. Or anti-Afghanistan. Or pro-little-flags-on-SUV-antennas. … It means thinking independently and getting better informed and filtering your news very carefully and realizing... [More]

God’s mixed-up priorities

Published on in Fun

SatireWire published So Now God Takes an Interest In Answering New York’s Prayers? about the apparent uneven attention paid to the doling out of miracles in the NY area.

MS Passport holes

Published on in Technology

Wired reports that there’s a relatively gaping hole in the Microsoft’s Passport service. This service holds all of a user’s personal information and can also hold credit card and financial information. It’s being touted as a keyring for the Internet, kept secure by Microsoft. If you have a HotMail account, you have a PassPort (it may or may not have your credit card information, though). However:

<q>In a demonstration of the exploit earlier this week, Slemko sent Wired News a specially crafted... [More]

That’s not Nostradamus!

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

<q>In the year of the new century and nine months, From the sky will come a great King of Terror… The sky will burn at forty-five degrees. Fire approaches the great new city…</q>

<q>In the city of york there will be a great collapse, two twin brothers torn apart by chaos while the fortress falls the great leader will succumb.</q>

<q>Third big war will begin when the big city is burning</q>

I’ve found a page debunking this Nostradamus quatrain being sent around. Apparently, it originated... [More]

Islam needs reform (and we need <em>real discourse)

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Salman Rushdie (yes, that one) writes Yes, This is About Islam, also in the New York Times. It talks about the need for reform in the Muslim world, particularly because those speaking most stridently for Islam are ignorant proponents of a “cluster of customs, opinions and prejudices…” rather than true religious leaders.

<q>An Iraqi writer quotes an earlier Iraqi satirist: “The disease that is in us, is from us.” A British Muslim writes, “Islam has become its own enemy.” A Lebanese friend,... [More]

Spin and Secrets

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Here’s a scary article from Thomas Friedman on the New York Times. He discusses how the U.S. needs to spin the war better because there’s too much dissent.

<q>[A] month into the war in Afghanistan, the hand-wringing has already begun over how long this might last. Let’s all take a deep breath and repeat after me: Give war a chance. This is Afghanistan we’re talking about. Check the map. It’s far away.</q>

So, the government isn’t doing enough to convince of the righteousness of the cause. In... [More]

New ‘stimulus’ bills

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Common Dreams published The One-Eyed Man, discussing the recent enormous “economic stimulus” bill passed this week. The article is so named because:

<q>to really understand legislation you have to look for the clause giving special consideration to one-eyed bearded men with a limp &#8212; that is, you have to look for the provision that turns a bill ostensibly serving a public purpose into a giveaway for some special interest.</q>

For more information on the bill, see Operation Enduring... [More]

earthli Settings fixed (again)

Published on in earthli.com

[default] options added to earthli settings, which will use the default at all times, and changes for holidays ;-). Also fixed some bugs in the cookie that only Mozilla-based browsers detected.

Jass Manual converted

Published on in earthli.com

The Jass Manual has been converted to use the new settings.

Think. Question. Analyze.

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Former U.S. secretary of labor, Robert Reich, published How to Be Tough on Terrorism on AlterNet. He recommends a more reasoned approach, avoiding the far-right or far-left fanaticism that has polarized political discussion recently.

<q>The right dismisses this [U.S.] sordid history as irrelevant to the current crisis and accuses anyone on the left who dwells on it as “blaming America” for terrorism. Both sides are wrong: the left for suggesting that this history should make us any less... [More]

License(s) to kill (but not to talk)

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Common Dreams reports that the CIA has been approved to use targeted kills (assasinations for those of you not versed in doublespeak) again for the first time (ahem) since 1975, when they last made a horrendous mess of trying to kill Castro (who is still alive for those playing catch-up).

<q>The US defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, confirmed reports of such a move yesterday by telling CNN that the US would be acting in self-defence in carrying out such missions. … Mr Rumsfeld said: “It is... [More]

Who the hell is mailing Anthrax?

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

A lot of media attention is given to the connection between the Anthrax letters and the 9/11 attack. Why the silence on right-wing terrorism? on the World Socialist Web Site discusses the very real possibility that the Anthrax attacks are from domestic sources.

<q>If the anthrax attacks had taken place before September 11, the prime suspects would have been anti-abortion zealots or right-wing militia fanatics seeking to avenge the execution of Timothy McVeigh.</q>

Since the U.S. has no... [More]

Happy Halloween

Published on in earthli.com

earthli gets into the Halloween spirit with a new default theme (select Halloween from the settings menus if you have set a different default theme).

Photo Albums have a new home

Published on in earthli.com

The new Photo Albums are working and all existing photos are browsable. Soon you’ll be able to add pictures again.

Spreading some dis-information

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

The NY Times writes No News Is Good News, another article about media management in the U.S. It discusses the efforts to keep Bin Laden off of network television, with the transparent excuse that he might be sending coded messages to his ‘troops’, as well as the bending of public sentiment to keep up support for the war by encouraging a ‘with us or against us’ mentality:

<q>Even so, America’s New War, as CNN has branded it, is already whipping up one of the cold war’s most self-destructive... [More]

Potpourri (Information Overload)

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

I’ve read a lot of longer articles and papers recently, filling in history that somehow got left out of the standard U.S. curriculum (pretty much the whole 20th century). It’s a bit of an information overload. There’s a (semi-)interesting read on First Monday about separating fact from dogma and propaganda and the success of newspaper, television and community news services in that regard.

On to the information overload.

On September 18, Noam Chomsky gave another talk at MIT, recapping many... [More]

From Pilger to Powell

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

Browsing the archives at CounterPunch turned up more interesting material. For a bit of levity, here’s The New Newspeak with some terms and definitions for today’s world. An article called Sex not Bombs is view of the situation I haven’t seen yet.

A John Pilger article from the 15th of October seriously derides the war in Afghanistan from a British point of view and takes to task our leaders for not reflecting the people’s views (also available at Pilger’s site):

<q>“Moreover, with every bomb... [More]

47 Questions

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

ZMag has 47 questions about the War in Afghanistan. The questions progress naturally, starting with “What is Islamic Fundamentalism?” (1) and proceeding from there. Of particular interest are “What is Terrorism?” (5), which leads to defining which nations are terrorist based on that criteria. “Is what the U.S. is doing consistent with a legal approach” (14) addresses the current vigilante approach the U.S. is taking:

<q>the answer is that the U.S. wishes to send a message and to establish a... [More]

What is patriotic?

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

In the Newsday today, I see that the CIA is being rewarded for their great counter-intelligence work so far:

<q>President George W. Bush last month signed an intelligence order directing the CIA to undertake its most sweeping and lethal covert action since the founding of the agency in 1947, explicitly calling for the destruction of Osama bin Laden and his worldwide al-Qaida network, according to senior government officials. … The president also added more than $1 billion to the agency’s war... [More]

Profiling is <em>good

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

In the same creepy vein as the previous post, here’s an article on the Wall Street Journal talking about how easy it is being white and being able to freely profile people while sympathizing with their plight, but demanding their patience and that they “suck it up”.

<q>But you know what? I think we’re in the fight of our lives, and I think we’re going to need their patience. And I think those who have not yet developed patience are going to have to grow up and get some. …
No one likes... [More]

Thinking about flying?

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

You better make sure your reading material is government-approved. From CityPaper, an account of one man trying to fly to Arizona in a highly vigilant America.


The Talibabanana Song

Published on in Fun

A few weeks ago, BBSpot wrote the Talibanana song. At the bottom of the page, he noted that he would welcome anyone offering to put it to music. In the inimitable style of the Internet, someone at MadBlast.com has done just that in a really nice Flash movie.

Rumors, Humor, Suppression and Bias

Published on in Miscellaneous

Start off with Humor:

There’s a cartoon at Salon.com spoofing the strong-arming going on in the government as bill after bill if shoved through with little to no comment and/or argument from the Senate of Congress.

This picture of a bomb signing got coverage at Yahoo News. It would have been pretty funny if they would have spelled hijack correctly and could have avoided disparaging ‘fags’ at the same time. Got to keep your message on target and let’s not sully it with other bigotries,... [More]