Wired.com has an interesting wiki article describing what you can do if you are an American and get turned away at the polling place because you are not on their list:

Federal law requires states to allow voters to cast a provisional ballot if a voter claims he registered before the state's registration deadline and is eligible to vote -- that is, that the voter is a U.S. citizen, 18 years or older and is not a convicted felon (in states that don't allow felons to vote). The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found that "countless" numbers of eligible voters were disenfranchised in the 2000 election because poll workers did not allow them to vote on provisional ballots. So it's important for voters to understand their rights and insist on them at the poll, experts say.


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Nice, a bunch of Hollywood stars encouraging people to vote ("don't vote? that doesn't make any sense.").

(via Jean Pierre)

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Looks like I was right holding off on the new MacBook Pros for a while: A huge part of the users apparently experiences problems with the "no button" trackpad not registering clicks:

A tip came in this weekend from someone with a fleet of new MacBooks. His complaint? Every 50 or so clicks and the trackpad freezes for 5 to 10 clicks and then wakes back up.

The users in the comments over at CrunchGear also note that the click of the new "button-less" trackpad is considerably louder than the previous versions' button, which is why some of them have switched on "finger-tap" clicking (incidentally a feature that I disabled on my laptop because it mistook my moving the mouse as a click too often). Maybe it's a case of nostalgia: Dear younger generation, this may be news to you, but keyboards always used to have an audible "click" sound whenever you pressed a button (and I can't believe that's how old I am already ;) ).

Let's see how long it takes for the first hardware and software fixes to be released. And for old times' sake, when will the first battery factory recall be?

[caption id="attachment_1765" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Schlock. CC-by-nc-sa licensed on flickr by nathan."]Schlock. CC-by-nc-sa licensed on flickr by nathan.[/caption] Picture: "Schlock." CC-by-nc-sa licensed on flickr by nathan.

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In last Friday's edition of Oregon State University's daily newspaper, The Barometer, I found an article criticizing Barack Obama's tax policies. The writer, Peter Druckenmiller, a junior in new media communication, basically argues that Obama is opening a can of worms by raising taxes for the rich and will as a second step raise everybody's taxes as well. Therefore, the author opposes any type of financial support for people who haven't paid many taxes in their lives, for example students.

So far, so good. Druckenmiller finishes, however, with a curious Third Reich comparison:

Martin Niemöller once said, "When they came for me, there were none left to speak out." He was referring to the Nazi's ideology of selecting one group to persecute, and laid out the Nazi progression from Communists to Jews and finally to himself. The same logic should be employed when examining the class warfare of Obama and Biden: if we allow any to be exploited (wealthy or not), then we are allowing all to be exploited.

Unlike many of my fellow Germans, I am usually not sensitive to nazi comparisons (I must confess: I am a fan of Seinfeld's soup nazi). However, this one struck me as so inappropriate that I decided to write a letter to the editor. Comparing the systematic extermination of political and ideological opponents with any type of tax policy is going too far.

Here is the short comment I wrote to the paper:

Congratulations, Peter. By making a grotesque nazi comparison in the last paragraph, you managed to lose every ounce of credibility you tried to build up in the entire article before. That, my friend, takes serious skills only few will ever master. Quite ironically, your apparent, kafkaesque fear of "communism" was much more a property of national socialism than financial support for society's most needy members, that you choose to compare so inappropriately with it. It doesn't even matter if people follow your--admittedly weak--arguments or not (you may have missed that "richer people pay more" is not an unknown concept even in the US, with a progressive income tax like most countries), if you want to convince, not deceive, people, you first need to get your research straight. Maybe you shouldn't have stopped reading that history book of yours after the first page after all.

Writers, please learn a lesson from Peter: Arguing with extremes is hardly ever convincing, in particular if you mess up the comparison. If you have a nazi reference readily available for your next submission to your school's newspaper, I suggest you leave it in your pocket and consider arguing differently. Chances are people may read, maybe even agree with you, and above all, you avoid making a complete fool of yourself.

Update: Jean Pierre points me to Godwin's Law, which, in turn, led me to the logical fallacy named "Reductio ad Hitlerum". Druckenmiller abuses a Nazi comparison in an apparent attempt to avoid rational discussion of the issue at hand.

Update: Tara mentioned an article in today's edition of the Barometer, entitled "Don't fall to trappings of Godwin's law". Columnist Bill Bradford writes:

"I dislike criticizing fellow Barometer columnists, but Wozich and Druckenmiller deserve it. In fact, I'm not just calling them out, but demanding they have their GOP American flag lapel pins removed and placed in safekeeping until they can prove they are capable of avoiding Godwin's Law."

Thanks, Bill, for reminding me that student journalism isn't completely out of its mind quite yet.

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A common stereotype about the US is, if you can think it, no matter how odd it is, there's somebody in the USA who does it.

I apologize therefore that this country still manages to weird me out. Like in the case of the Idahoan Politician who changed his only and legal name to "Pro-Life" (as a way to express his opinions about abortion):

A Senate candidate has legally changed his name to Pro-Life and will appear on the ballot that way this year, state election officials say. As Marvin Pro-Life Richardson, the organic strawberry farmer from Letha, 30 miles northwest of Boise, was denied the use of his middle name when he ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006 because the state's policy bars the use of slogans on the ballot. Now, though, officials in the Idaho secretary of state's office say they have no choice because Pro-Life is his full and only name. He says he will run for the highest state office on the ballot every two years for the rest of his life, advocating murder charges for doctors who perform abortions and for women who obtain the procedure.

Incidentally, having seen an Idaho absentee ballot, I can confirm him showing up as "Pro-Life, a person formerly known as Marvin Richardson".

Ignoring his political agenda for a second: Are you kidding me? Big Superman fan? Name your kid "Kal-el". Into pork? Why not call the little fellow "I-love-bacon"? (Oops, now I gave Scott an idea for his next child). There's really nothing crazy enough not to be done over here. Wow.

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Vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin never grows tired of telling the public that she's just an average person, that she's part of the average American middle class, and other stories from a happy little box of hockey mom fairy tales.

That's why her party allegedly spent 150,000 dollars on her wardrobe:

Sarah Palin’s wardrobe joined the ranks of symbolic political excess on Wednesday, alongside John McCain’s multiple houses and John Edwards’s $400 haircut, as Republicans expressed fear that weeks of tailoring Ms. Palin as an average “hockey mom” would fray amid revelations that the Republican Party outfitted her with expensive clothing from high-end stores.
“I don’t think Joe the Plumber wears Manolo Blahniks,” Ms. Behar [co-host on ABC's "The View"] said.

Don't get me wrong: I agree that a politician with such a high public exposure can't walk around in sweatpants and t-shirts. But don't pretend you are just an average person, worse even, try to make people believe you have the same financial situation as the average American middle class family. Unless, of course, the average American goes shopping on Fifth Avenue, in which case, never mind.

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After I disabled the "subscribe to comments" plugin yesterday, I found out today that two people already extended the original plugin with a "double-opt-in" feature (Link 1, link 2, both [de]).

So I installed the latter and set it up so it sends you the following email the first time you subscribe to comments on this blog:

Note that this email will only be sent once, ever. If you accept it, you'll be able to subscribe to additional blog entries' comments without further hassle. If you ignore it, you won't be asked again.

"Le roi est mort, vive le roi." -- I hope this is a solution that everybody can live with. I'll go back to the original subscribe-to-comments if the author adds a double-opt-in solution himself, but until then we should be golden.

Sorry for the confusion :)

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"Quick, put the disco music on, he's having a heart attack!"
U.S. doctors have found the Bee Gees 1977 disco anthem "Stayin' Alive" provides an ideal beat to follow while performing chest compressions as part of CPR on a heart attack victim.
The American Heart Association calls for chest compressions to be given at a rate of 100 per minute in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). "Stayin' Alive" almost perfectly matches that, with 103 beats per minute.

The study left the open if wearing the appropriate attire is also beneficial for the patient's survival.

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For quite a while now, I've been using a popular Wordpress plugin called "subscribe to comments" on fredericiana. It allows people to request email notifications when further comments come in on an article they commented on themselves. As it turns out though, the plugin has an unclear legal status in Germany [de]. The fact of the matter is, since somebody can put an arbitrary email address into the email field when commenting, a person who didn't want that may get "spammed" by my blog against their will.

That would result in a situation where the seeming "victim" of my "spam" could sue me for unsolicited advertisement, provided my blog is considered commercial--and depending on the judge, even a link to Amazon can make a website "commercial".

It is sad that German laws are so Internet-unfriendly, but I have to live with them. So I switched off email notifications on my blog until further notice.

I may switch to a double-opt-in solution (i.e., before notifications are sent, people have to click a link in an email to confirm they actually requested this service). While this is also not completely safe in legal terms (that means, no significant court has ruled about it yet), it is currently considered state of the art when it comes to sending out any sort of regular email to a group of people.

Since a lot of people are facing this problem, maybe the plugin's author or somebody else will extend the plugin to have double-opt-in functionality soon. I may even do it myself when I am bored the next time.

Until then, sorry for the inconvenience. You can always subscribe to the Comments RSS feed if you want to stay up to date with what's happening here.

(via JP)

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