Monthly Archives: December 2005

it’s a lot like life

From “yesterday’s New Scientist”:

bq. The first evidence that some of the basic organic building blocks of life can exist in an Earth-like orbit around a young Sun-like star has been provided by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

Nicely done. I can’t wait to go visit some of these places…

a mighty wind from sweden

I have no idea what to make of “this”: What. were. they. thinking?!?

Extra points if anyone can tell me how it’s actually supposed to work. I’m a little afraid to imagine.

a two-hour park

The artsy folks at “Rebar”: recently converted a 2-hour parking space in San Francisco into a “temporary urban park”: complete with grass, tree, and park bench. The reason:

bq. One of the more critical issues facing outdoor urban human habitat is the increasing paucity of space for humans to rest, relax, or just do nothing.

bq. For example, more than 70% of San Francisco’s downtown outdoor space is dedicated to the private vehicle, while only a fraction of that space is allocated to the public realm.

Sounds good to me. I’ll be sure to put some change in the meter if I happen past one of these.

bush can add ‘felon’ to his list of titles

Just to make it clear, the President of the United States “did in fact commit a felony”: by ordering surveillance of US citizens without court authorization.

bq. There are minor exceptions in the law, but they clearly do not apply in this case. They cover only the 15 days after a declaration of war by congress, a period of 72 hours prior to seeking court authorization (which was never sought), and similar exceptions that clearly are not germane.

bq. There is no room for doubt or question about whether the President has the prerogative to order surveillance without asking the FISC — even if the FISC is a toothless organization that never turns down requests, it is a federal crime, punishable by up to five years imprisonment, to conduct electronic surveillance against US citizens without court authorization.

bq. The FISC may be worthless at defending civil liberties, but in its arrogant disregard for even the fig leaf of the FISC, the administration has actually crossed the line into a crystal clear felony. The government could have legally conducted such wiretaps at any time, but the President chose not to do it legally.

If this goes without prosecution (or at least an investigation), it will be a clear signal that the rule of law no longer applies to the U.S. government. The fact that this is seen as just another “rule bending” by the President shows how far we’ve gone down that road already.