The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Hurricane season begins

After Katrina, all the major news outlets are reporting the start of the Atlantic hurricane season today. None seems to have reported that the East Pacific season began May 15th, which has already seen its first tropical storm. Perhaps Americans really don't care what happens to Mexico?

Again, probably because of increased media interest, this morning's "Tropical Weather Outlook" newsletter had a lot more information than usual:

TODAY MARKS THE FIRST DAY OF THE ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON...WHICH 
WILL RUN UNTIL NOVEMBER 30TH.  THE LIST OF NAMES FOR 2006 IS AS
FOLLOWS:

NAME           PRONUNCIATION    NAME            PRONUNCIATION
-------------------------------------------------------------
ALBERTO        AL BAIR- TOE     LESLIE
BERYL          BER- IL          MICHAEL
CHRIS                           NADEEN          NAY DEEN-
DEBBY                           OSCAR
ERNESTO        ER NES- TOE      PATTY
FLORENCE                        RAFAEL          RA FA EL-
GORDON                          SANDY
HELENE         HE LEEN-         TONY
ISAAC          EYE- ZAK         VALERIE
JOYCE                           WILLIAM
KIRK

THE GREEK ALPHABET...ALPHA...BETA...GAMMA...ETC...IS USED SHOULD THE
STANDARD LIST OF NAMES BE EXHAUSTED...AS IT WAS LAST YEAR. IN
2005...A RECORD 28 STORMS FORMED...INCLUDING AN UNNAMED OCTOBER
SUBTROPICAL STORM THAT WAS ADDED TO THE OFFICIAL LIST IN APRIL. THE
LONG-TERM AVERAGES FOR THE NUMBER OF NAMED STORMS...HURRICANES...
AND MAJOR HURRICANES ARE 11...6...AND 2...RESPECTIVELY.  THE NOAA
SEASONAL OUTLOOK FOR 2006 CALLS FOR ABOVE NORMAL LEVELS OF ACTIVITY.

(I think it's cute how the National Hurricane Center, which has some of the most powerful computers on the planet, still puts out 1970s-era block-letter reports. It's their own form of bureaucratese.)

Keep in mind, November 30th is only a guideline. We had a named Atlantic storm in January this year. In fact, let me make a prediction you can tease me about later: by 2010, the NHC will track the Atlantic hurricane season from May 15th to December 31st, and by 2025, they'll abandon the concept altogether and just start the name list on January 1st each year.

Bloggers now protected by journalist shield laws in California

The California Court of Appeal, Sixth District, has reversed a lower-court order that blogger Jason O'Grady had to turn over his sources for a story he wrote about Apple Computer:

Online writers are protected by the state's shield law for reporters as well as by the 1st Amendment, the state Court of Appeal in San Jose ruled, reversing a lower court decision.
Apple subpoenaed the e-mail provider of Jason O'Grady, publisher of O'Grady's PowerPage, an Internet site that posted information in 2004 about an unreleased Apple product.
The ruling establishes that Web reporters have the same right to protect the confidentially of sources as other reporters, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Cool.

The case is O'Grady v. Superior Court of Santa Clara County (184 kB, PDF).

Dionne on English-amendment nonsense

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne writes today about Sen. James Inhofe's (R-OK) asinine English Language amendment:

There is no point to this amendment except to say to members of our currently large Spanish-speaking population that they will be legally and formally disrespected in a way that earlier generations of immigrants from—this is just a partial list—Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Norway, Sweden, France, Hungary, Greece, China, Japan, Finland, Lithuania, Lebanon, Syria, Bohemia, Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia were not.
Immigrants from all these places honored their origins, built an ethnic press and usually worshiped in the languages of their ancestors. But they also learned English because they knew that advancement in our country required them to do so.

My great-grandmother[1] came from Russia, and about the English language amendment she would say: Ich hob in bodereim.[2] She actually never learned English, though she tried desperately. One of her grandsons went on to win a couple of awards for writing, including two from the Writers Guild and a couple of EMMY nominations. So at least in my family, immigration and speaking some other language didn't hurt. I think our story is pretty typical.

Dionne doesn't mention that foreign immigrants have always strengthened the U.S., and we're better for their contributions to language and to everything else. Imagine if you couldn't eat a burrito with salsa while sipping a margarita in a plaza; wouldn't your life be less enjoyable?


[1] One of them. The other three came from Wisconsin, from the English-language enclaves of Milwaukee and Janesville.

[2] "I have it in the bathtub." I'm not sure what this means exactly, but inexactly it's the equivalent of "je m'en fiche" or "I don't give a [darn]."

Europe gets two new countries

Montenegro has voted to secede from Serbia:

With 95% of the votes counted from Sunday's referendum in Montenegro, on independence from Serbia, 55.4% of voters were in favour of the break. It is possible, but unlikely, that the few votes still to be counted will change this. The much more likely prospect is that Serbia and Montenegro will negotiate their divorce in the weeks and months ahead.

Montenegro's prime minister will visit Brussels next week to formally request recognition from the European Union. Kosovo may also seek independence from Serbia next year.

Revised prediction

I may have opined on this subject earlier, but here follows my prediction, with which people may ridicule me in three years:

In approximately 974 days and 15 hours, we will see the inagurations of President Gore and Vice President Warner.

I believe I am making this prediction with considerably more evidence than Shrub made his prediction that democracy would flourish in Iraq within the same time-frame.

Why privacy is important

Excellent column by Bruce Schneier:

A future in which privacy would face constant assault was so alien to the framers of the Constitution that it never occurred to them to call out privacy as an explicit right. Privacy was inherent to the nobility of their being and their cause. Of course being watched in your own home was unreasonable. Watching at all was an act so unseemly as to be inconceivable among gentlemen in their day. You watched convicted criminals, not free citizens. You ruled your own home. It's intrinsic to the concept of liberty.
Too many wrongly characterize the debate as "security versus privacy." The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it arises under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that's why we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide.

No! No! Oh, the humanity!

The Chicago Tribune reports that Anheuser-Busch is buying a stake in Goose Island Brewing Co.:

Anheuser-Busch Inc., which brews Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob and other beers, is close to purchasing up to 35 percent of the local brewery and taking over distribution of the Chicago beer that is growing in popularity.
Neither Goose Island president and founder John Hall nor his son Greg, Goose's brewmaster, could be reached for comment on the negotiations that have stretched on more than six months.
A deal will relieve Goose Island of the marketing and sales problems that have hung over the brewery since it terminated its sales and marketing agreement with United States Beverage LLC in 2004.
The company had been using the firm to help market to retailers and bars and assist in contracting deals to use excess brewing capacity at its West Side brewery.

For those readers outside Chicago, Goose Island makes the best beer in Chicago. I hope, if Busch buys a third of them, that they continue. But it's sad.

Judge allows AT&T documents in EFF case

In the ongoing, and now expanded, case the Electronic Frontier Foundation has brought against AT&T for its role in aiding the National Security Agency's efforts to spy on us, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughan Walker will allow confidential AT&T documents into the case:

The evidence at issue was filed as support for EFF's motion for a preliminary injunction against AT&T, seeking to stop the company's ongoing violations of the law and the privacy of its customers.
AT&T had requested that the evidence be returned to AT&T, and not used in the case. Wednesday, Judge Walker denied that request. Although the allegedly proprietary documents will remain under seal, Judge Walker instructed AT&T to work with EFF to narrowly redact any confidential material from EFF's brief and supporting declarations so that they can be made public as soon as possible.

Salon (reg.req.) reports that the documents came from retired AT&T technician Mark Klein, who "was motivated to blow the whistle in 2004 'when it became clear to me that AT&T, at the behest of the National Security Agency, had illegally installed secret computer gear designed to spy on Internet traffic.'"