Vote as if your life is dependent on it

In some ways, I don’t think there’s ever been a US election in this country that has more far reaching implications than the one next week.

If the Republicans gain control of the Senate next week, and maintain control of the House, they’ll have full control of the Senate, the House, and the Executive Branch of government. More importantly, if the Democrats lose control of the Senate, the Executive Branch will most likely read a message into the results: The American people support the bombing of Iraq, even if it means doing so unilaterally.

We’re in a recession, the unemployment numbers are high, and there are record numbers of people without adequate health insurance. This is in addition to depleted pension funds, fears for economic security, and a growing distrust of corporations. All of these are factors that favor a Democratic election. If the Democrats lose control of the Senate in spite of this, an interpretation can very easily be made that the issue of security is more important than issues of economics and social services.

In the last several months, our security and the invasion of Iraq have become quite heavily bound together. By voting security, or by saying to the President, “You have our full support, here’s a Senate and a House that will back you”, I’m fairly sure that there can be no chance of stopping an invasion of Iraq, even if the US can’t get support from allies and the attack becomes a unilateral invasion. I don’t want to say that President Bush is obsessed with invading Iraq, but I could comfortably say that this item is most likely the top of his agenda.

I am unhappy with the Democrats now. I am especially unhappy with the Democrats who voted to give President Bush what are essentially war powers in regards to Iraq. Among these are Jean Carnahan who is, in many ways, more semantically aligned with the Republicans than the Democrats. However, if she doesn’t win the election, Jim Talent will win and that’s one more nail in the coffin of Democratic control of the Senate.

Now is not the time to send messages to the Democratic Party that we’re unhappy with them by voting Green Party, or another party, or not voting at all. Regardless of whatever your views are in regards to so many differing issues, it’s vital now that we work to send one message, and one message only with this election: We the American people do not support an invasion of Iraq.

If nothing else, we need to send a message that we must be given time to understand the consequences of this action, and the alternatives.

Last week we watched Chechen rebels take over a theater in Russia. The end result is over 150 people dead. This in spite of Russian soldiers controlling Chechnya. Again and again we see that military action on the part of a government does not control or stop terrorism — terrorism transcends borders. If anything, military action encourages terrorism because it demonstrates to the non-extremists, those who are borderline, those who want peace but despair of ever getting it, that the only actions open to them is terrorism.

I wrote the following to Daniel Romano from the Green Party today:

Control of the Senate is up for grabs, and the race between Carnahan and Talent is incredibly close. Votes for the Green Party are pulled, as you know, from voters who would normally vote Democratic. And in a close race, this could be enough to give the election to Talent.

I know you have stated that you feel there is no difference between the two candidates, and I don’t like Carnahan either. I am extremely unhappy at her and other Democrats giving Bush what amounts to war powers. But the Democrats losing the Senate now would send a signal to the White House and Congress that issues of economics (normally the province of Dems) were not the key elements of the vote this year — that people are voting security. And this could, and in fact I believe it will, encourage our unilateral invasion of Iraq. This invasion would be disastrous, not only for the Iraqi people, but for ourselves, as well.

I know you know you don’t have a chance to win, but that you’re hoping to get enough of the vote to continue the Green Party on ballots. And normally if the threat of an invasion of Iraq wasn’t hanging over all our heads I would help — and send that clear message to the Democratic party. But now is not the time to focus on these issues. We have to do everything we can to send a message to Congress that we do not want this ‘war’.

Regardless of your political beliefs, whether you’re Republican or Democrat, Green Party, Libertarian or Independent, if you believe that a unilateral invasion of Iraq would be a mistake, and that we need to take time to think this issue through, then consider your vote next week. If you live in an area that has a hotly contested election, especially for the Senate (such as in Missouri), think about what your vote can do and say before you cast it. Then vote and send a message to the parties in your area why you voted as you did.

Vote as if your life is dependent on it, because it may very well be.

Technology Weblogging

Comment spammers redux

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Seems to be a technology day today.

Phil caught a comment spammer who was trying to dump spam comments in all of his posts. This process would work within any weblog that sequentially numbers weblog posts (ie Movable Type).

I’m going to try and tweak my mt-comments.cgi to stop POSTs from pages outside of my root URL. This is my way of warning you all that the comments, web pages, weblog may be a tad more behaviorally challenged than normal.

Update: I added checks on referers and this will prevent posts from locations other than my own weblog server. Unfortunately, as Phil pointed out, http referers are fairly easy to fake. I also wrote a test script that did so, and my checks failed to catch a ‘fake’ referer.

Still, it’s a start…

If you attempt to post a comment and fail, please send me an email and I’ll check to see what the problem is. Unless, of course, you’re the spammer. In which case: Eat dirt and die scuzzbucket!

Ahem. Thank you.


RSS Feed pings from

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

There’s now an associated RSS feed with With this, aggregators could check the feed to know when to poll an individual weblog RSS feed. On the face, this sounds good: stop all that polling and all those hits to our RSS files. However, the problem with this approach is that it’s centralizing what is now a decentralized service.

Centralization means becoming dependent on one service for new information. If the service goes down, you would then need to make sure your aggregator reverts back to the old polling procedure.

There’s a second problem to centralization – control. If one organization controls the RSS feed, there’s nothing to stop that organization filtering weblogs – and the RSS feeds associated with the weblogs. The issue of being filtered has been discussed here before.

Finally, a third problem: As it is, I have to wait too long for the trackback and whatever pings to occur when I do an update to my weblog. Yet another ‘ping’ is just an annoyance. I’d rather just have well behaved aggregators that only check every hour.

Better, yet: I’d rather have you all click the blogroll entry with my name on it – it’s B-u-r-n-i-n-g-b-i-r-d in case you’ve forgotten – and wait with a smile of anticipation on your face as my page loads, rubbing your hands together in excitement. Kind of like a kid opening a present during the holidays. Think of this weblog wrapped in a bow if it helps.

And this approach can’t be spammed, hacked, or broken.


Changes to RSS Validator MT templates

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

If you’re a Movable Type user and are using the templates provided with the new RSS Validator, be aware of the following line:




This will include your entire post within the feed. I didn’t pay that much attention to the template or the generated output until this weekend when News is Free started pulling in photos from one of my stories. I don’t mind News is Free accessing the photos or reproducing the entire essay, but I imagine that it slowed their page loads, as well as added to my bandwidth use.

And I’ve never liked the concept of full posts showing up in aggregators. Never have. Never will. If people can’t do with just the excerpts then that’s just too bloody bad.

I’ve since removed this line from both templates. The generated results still validate. You might also remove the content namespace declaration too (though I wouldn’t worry about that unless you’re comfortable mucking around in RSS or RDF).

Update Two other discussions related to this issue in the Neighborhood: Shannon and Phil.