Fulfilled Expectations

I can hear the Maury Povitch show from here. Woman says her man is cheating on her. He denies it. She got three sexually transmitted diseases while they were together. Maury’s going to put him on a lie detector. Gosh, I wonder what it will say.

Update: Liar.

Via Nobody’s Business comes the news that our British cousins have made it illegal to take pictures of cops:

From today, anyone taking a photograph of a police officer could be deemed to have committed a criminal offence.

That is because of a new law – Section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act – which has come into force.

It permits the arrest of anyone found “eliciting, publishing or communicating information” relating to members of the armed forces, intelligence services and police officers, which is “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.

You might think that last part about terrorism is a safeguard against abuse, but it’s not. It won’t prevent the cops from arresting you. The only place it does any good is at your trial, and by then it’s too late. Even if the charges are dropped and you are released later the same day, the cops will already have confiscated your camera and had a chance to delete your photos.

Why would they do that?

Check out this story Simple Justice found about how one Schenectady cop spends his shift:

Dwayne Johnson, who was the city’s highest paid officer last year with earnings of $168,921, spends most Tuesday early mornings in an apartment at the corner of Queen Philomena Boulevard and Sir Benjamin Way, near Kings Road. Although Johnson is typically scheduled to patrol the city until 8 a.m., he parks his marked police car on Sir Benjamin Way just before 4 a.m. and remains indoors for several hours.

The eight-year veteran of the department was observed by a Daily Gazette reporter and other witnesses as he entered and stayed in the apartment on five Tuesdays in a row this year.

The reporter has photographs.

If British cops are anything like Schenectady cops, it’s no wonder they don’t want their picture taken.

Megan McArdle puts it in perspective:

Most of my friends are libertarians, and hence tend to assume that this sort of quid pro quo is in fact how people get appointments.  But we thought it was done with some subtlety, a nudge and a wink, not full frontal demands for payola… There’s something really sad about having gone so far that your indelicacy actually amazes the folks who want to legalize prostitution and open air drug markets.

(Source)

The U.S. Attorney here in Illinois, Patrick Fitzgerald, has generally been considered pretty good at uncovering political corruption, and today he was promoted to awesome: His office just charged Governor Rod Blagojevich on some amazing charges—none of that “misusing the postal meter”-style corruption for our boy Blago. The feds actually arrested him at his home.

I haven’t even checked the Illinois Review site for fear of a fatal dose of glee.

The first part of this AP wire story is classic Chicago politics (yes, he’s the state governor, but he started here in Chicago, where he was my Congressman):

A 76-page FBI affidavit said the 51-year-old Democratic governor was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps over the last month conspiring to sell or trade the vacant Senate seat for personal benefits for himself and his wife, Patti.

Otherwise, Blagojevich considered appointing himself. The affidavit said that as late as Nov. 3, he told his deputy governor that if “they’re not going to offer me anything of value I might as well take it.”

“I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain,” Blagojevich allegedly said later that day, according to the affidavit, which also quoted him as saying in a remark punctuated by profanity that the seat was “a valuable thing — you just don’t give it away for nothing.”

I’m always appalled by the raw opportunism in our politicians. It’s pretty obvious that he never considered what would be good for the state, let alone the country.

What’s really amazing is just how much of a loony-tune our governor was:

He also allegedly discussed getting campaign funds for himself or possibly a post in the president’s cabinet or an ambassadorship once he left the governor’s office. He noted becoming a U.S. senator might remake his image for a possible presidential run in 2016, according to the affidavit.

Oh my God! The fool thought he could run for president? Everyone else in Illinois has just been waiting for the indictments to come down.

Update: Apparently, Blagojevich has not officially been indicted yet, merely arrested and charged. The distinction isn’t entirely clear to me, but this post has been modified to reflect the lack of indictment.

By now you have probably heard that police in Colorado have uncovered an apparent plot by white supremacists to assassinate Barack Obama.

I was just now skimming through the blog feeds I read when I noticed that Illinois Reason had a post up entitled “Obama assassination plot foiled in Colorado.” The main guy at that blog, Rob Nesvacil, is a rabid anti-conservative who really has it in for the right-wing blogosphere, so as I clicked through to his post, I thought “Wouldn’t it be funny if he was crazy enought to try to blame right-wing pundits for the assassination attempt?”

It turns out he does.

What happens when the one side constantly smears the other as unpatriotic, treacherous and disloyal simply because they disagree with that side’s ideas, no matter how valid they may be…

when they constantly promote six degrees of separation to anyone even remotely considered “bad” (no matter how thin the connection) even though the candidate was never involved in any wrongdoing and has routinely repudiated those others’ despicable acts…

when lie after lie after lie is promulgated to falsely insinuate a candidate either sympathizes with terrorists or is one himself…

when the elitist billionaires of one political side use their money not to do charitable good for society but to tear down any with whom they disagree as if such acidic poison were what our Founding Fathers had always hoped for when fighting a war to launch our independent democracy…

when the most vile of heretical and blasphemous rhetoric is used to lie about a candidate and portray him as not just evil, but perhaps even the Anti-Christ and harbinger of the End Times

…What happens when one side of the political spectrum, through fetid ranting over the course of a great many years, foments rage and anger and promotes and even glorifies violence in order to ‘pump up their base of voters’?

Idiots try to assassinate a presidential candidate, that’s what happens.

It doesn’t matter if they are alleged white supremacists or hopped up on meth. Something clearly pushed these people over the edge to think murder was somehow acceptable. Rational and sane folks do not simply load up a high-powered rifle and work on an assassination plot; something or someone prods them toward that disastrous destination.

This is the same sort of dubious “reasoning” that caused some liberal pundits to blame conservative pundits for the bombing in Oklahoma City because conservatives were against big government and, you know, the bombers blew up a government building.

Oh my.

According to the New York Times, New York Governor Elliot Spitzer has just been—as they say—“linked” to a prostitution ring…which I assume means he was fucking a bunch of hookers.

Normally, I wouldn’t care at all. I don’t normally give a damn care what consenting adults do with their time and money.

However, Elliot Spitzer does care what consenting adults do. As New York Attorney General, he prosecuted a couple of prostitution rings. He’s also gone on a number of grandstanding crusades, often stretching the interpretation of New York law to prosecute people for business practices that had been considered legal for decades. He’s also threatened to go after people who criticize him. Even by politician standards, he’s kind of a scumbag.

So I’m torn. I don’t believe hiring prostitutes makes him a bad guy, but I don’t like him, but the reasons I don’t like him aren’t illegal, but hiring prostitutes is. So I’d like to see him take a big hit for this. But I’ll feel guilty for enjoying it.

Update: And I feel really guilty for mentioning that according to court files, Client-9 (the FBI code for Spitzer in the affidavit) was described by the Emperors Club booker as someone who “would ask you to do things that, like, you might not think were safe…” I gotta admit, I’m hoping for embarassing details. Let’s just say I’m kind of hoping to see Elliot Spitzer’s name in the same sentence with words like “scat”, “golden shower,” and “she-male.”

Some former DEA agents are annoyed by the movie American Gangster:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Three former Drug Enforcement Administration agents filed a $55 million defamation lawsuit against the movie studio that made “American Gangster” on Wednesday, claiming it tarnished hundreds of reputations.

The movie hurt the agents’ reputations by falsely claiming in text at the end that a collaboration between Lucas and Roberts “led to the convictions of three-quarters of New York City’s Drug Enforcement Agency” agents between 1973 and 1985, according to the suit, which seeks class action status.

The lawsuit said the public believed the film’s text referred to federal DEA agents, not police officers, and regardless, no New York police officers were convicted as a result of Lucas’ cooperation.

The DEA agents’ demands are about what you’d expect from drug warriors who confiscate people’s cars when they find drug residue in the ash tray:

The suit seeks to stop the film’s distribution or change the text at the end of the film and turn over all of its profits to a fund for federal DEA agents.

Once a legal gangster, always a legal gangster.

About 8 or 9 years ago, I started working on a Ph.D. in computer science. I already had the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in computer science, so this seemed like the next logical step. At the time, I was working as a software developer for the research arm of the Illinois Institute of Technology and they offered me a pretty good deal to get my Ph.D. with the IIT Computer Science department. My field of research was going to be Information Retrieval, which is the name for the science behind full-text search engines like Google, Yahoo, and AOL.

I didn’t start out by doing research. First I had to take some classes. A lot of classes. In the meantime, I helped out a bit around the Information Retrieval lab, managing servers and other non-research stuff. One of the Ph.D. students using the lab was a fellow named Abdur, who was much farther along in his research.

Abdur and I, well, we didn’t exactly get along. He clearly didn’t have a lot of respect for my skills or my intellect. I figure he thought I didn’t have what it takes to do science research.

He was probably right about that, because I eventually drifted out of the Ph.D. program before ever doing any actual research or even completing all my classes. I had lost interest in the subject of Information Retrieval and the idea of doing scientific research. Software development is fun and rewarding. Software research just seemed like a lot of hard work that would bore me to death.

Abdur finished his degree and did a lot of research. According to his online CV he has over 20 patents, 8 publications in refereed journals, and over a hundred contributions to conferences. He’s been on various conference committees and is on the editorial board for a major journal in the field.

I guess if I had finished my Ph.D., I could have done all that too. In every way, Abdur was and no doubt still is a far better computer science researcher than I ever was or will be.

Then again, Abdur Chowdhury has quite recently made search engine history in a way that I would not want to share. He was the AOL Chief Architect for Research who published the search queries of over half a million AOL users, setting off a firestorm of controversy over the release of private search data.

Update: Samples of the leaked data here and here. No pictures, but might not be seriously not safe for work.

I haven’t read a lot of Hunter S. Thompson’s work, but I enjoyed reading what I did. I’m not sure there was a point to it all, but it was fun along the way.

So now he’s gone and killed himself. Self-inflicted gunshot wound, right in the head. Anybody shocked by this turn of events?

Well, I guess his son must have been pretty shocked. He’s the one who had the misfortune of finding the body. Way to go, Hunter.

What a jackass.