Bill's Blog

Friday, July 22, 2005

Next On My Reading List: The Secret Man

TheSecretMan CoverI just found out that this book was already released at some point earlier this month. When the story broke in May about Deep Throat's Identity, I didn't think they would have the book out this quickly. I guess Woodward already had it just about finished.

Anyway, I am running out this weekend and picking it up. I'll post a review when I get finished. Shouldn't be more than a week or two. History in general interests me and for some reason, I have always been fascinated with Watergate.

In the meantime, here is the book description from Amazon:

In Washington, D.C., where little stays secret for long, the identity of Deep Throat -- the mysterious source who helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein break open the Watergate scandal in 1972 -- remained hidden for 33 years. Now, Woodward tells the story of his long, complex relationship with W. Mark Felt, the enigmatic former No. 2 man in the Federal Bureau of Investigation who helped end the presidency of Richard Nixon.

The Secret Man chronicles the story in intimate detail, from Woodward's first, chance encounter with Felt in the Nixon White House, to their covert, middle-of-the-night meetings in an underground parking garage, to the aftermath of Watergate and decades beyond, until Felt finally stepped forward at age 91 to unmask himself as Deep Throat.

The Secret Man reveals the struggles of a patriotic career FBI man, an admirer of J. Edgar Hoover, the Bureau's legendary director. After Hoover's death, Mark Felt found himself in the cross fire of one of Washington's historic contests, as Nixon and his men tried to dominate the Bureau and cover up the crimes of the administration. This book illuminates the ongoing clash between temporary political power and the permanent bureaucracy of government. Woodward explores Felt's conflicts and motives as he became Deep Throat, not only secretly confirming Woodward and Bernstein's findings from dozens of other sources, but giving a sense of the staggering sweep of Nixon's criminal abuses.

In this volume, part memoir, part morality tale, part political and journalistic history, Woodward provides context and detail about The Washington Post's expose of Watergate. He examines his later, tense relationship with Felt, when the FBI man stood charged with authorizing FBI burglaries. (Not knowing Felt's secret role in the demise of his own presidency, Nixon testified at Felt's trial, and Ronald Reagan later pardoned him.) Woodward lays bare his own personal struggles as he tries to define his relationship, his obligations, and his gratitude to this extraordinary confidential source.

The Secret Man is an intense, 33-year journey, providing a one-of-a-kind study of trust, deception, pressures, alliances, doubts and a lifetime of secrets. Woodward has spent more than three decades asking himself why Mark Felt became Deep Throat. Now the world can see what happened and why, bringing to a close one of the last chapters of Watergate.

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Anti-Piracy Chief?

President Bush announced today that he is appointing Chris Israel to the new senior-level position of Anti-Piracy Chief. Israel will be tasked with "fighting global intellectual-property piracy and counterfeiting". Basically sounds like this guy is going to be the inside man for the RIAA and MPAA.

Also from the Washington Post article:
China -- where 90 percent of music and movies are pirate copies -- will be a chief priority

Do we really need a Anti-Piracy Chief? I mean, if the main focus is going to be on China, why not just appoint this guy deputy ambassador or something and have him work directly with the Chinese?

Washington Post: Bush Creates Post for Anti-Piracy Chief

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Windows Vista Announced

Microsoft has officially announced that the next version of their Windows Operating System will be called "Windows Vista". Until now, the project had been code-named "Longhorn". Vista is scheduled for release next year.

MS Windows Vista Product Page

MS Press Release

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NYC Transit Police Search Passengers

In a move that I believe causes more harm than good, passengers on the NYC transit system are being subjected to random searches. This is an obvious reaction to the attacks in London and is going to end up costing tax payers money without much good coming from it. Aside from profiling issues (even though they say they are not going to be profiling) and the threat to the constitutionally-protected right against unreasonable searches, the manner in which they set up the security leaves the transit system as unprotected as it was before. Anyone subjected to a search can refuse and leave the transit station. Any terrorist is going to know this (they usually do their homework) and will just keep trying to enter at other points until they are not "randomly" chosen. The only thing this will accomplish is slowing down normal commuters and infringe on our rights.

Fox News: NYC Cops Search Subway Riders

Village Voice: 'I Do Not Consent to Being Searched'

Bruce Schneier: Searching Bags in Subways

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London Bombings

Thankfully the attacks yesterday in London were unsuccessful and that no one was hurt. These animals who wear no uniforms and target innocent civilians do not deserve to walk this earth. I hope they get these guys. I pray the people of London have the resolve to fight this evil head on and do not let the hatemongers see them fearful.

The news this morning had reports of police killing a man in the subway. I'm sure more details will surface in the coming days. Hopefully, this guy was one of the conspirators in yesterdays attempts and has been dealt with accordingly.

Watching one of those 24/7 news channels (I don't know which one I had on), the commentator, as well as the reporter in London, seemed perplexed that the police would kill the suspect and not try to injure him in such a way that he could be questioned later. First off, these weren't your normal policemen, these were armed anti-terror police (regular police in London to not carry firearms), so they had to have a some sort of tip off on this guy. Also, the suspect was wearing a padded jacket (according to eyewitness accounts). If I am a police officer and I am tracking someone who I have good reason to believe was involved in terrorist plotting, he enters the subway (where other attacks have occurred), he's running from me, and he's wearing unseasonably appropriate clothing that could hide a bomb, I will take a shot at him in an instant. And I'd shoot to kill.

As long as the police on site had good reason to believe he was one of the conspirators, I have no problem supporting their actions.

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Come Vote and Get Cheese

Business week has a writeup on dirty tricks in the May 17th Primary in Philadelphia. A woman wrote up flyers for two democratic candidates that offered free cheese to voters and then passed them around her housing project, of which she is the tenant council president. I don't think this would have been bad, had she included all the candidates on the flyer, but why limit it to just the two Democrats? I am all for getting out the vote, but bribing voters and then advocating a candidate (or a party of candidates) just seems wrong.

BusinessWeek: A Cheesy Way to Lure Voters

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Teacher Fired For Supporting Bush

I'd like to hear the other side of the story on this one...

A former elementary school teacher has filed a lawsuit claiming she was forced to resign for her support of the President. Before resigning, the teacher was told by the principal to take down a portrait of President Bush (the teacher complied). According to the suit, the portrait of Bush was among portraits of the other Presidents. Also, the principal is the wife of a Democratic NY State Assemblyman. The teacher says she was forced to resign because of her ties to the Republican National Committee and her volunteer work at the GOP Convention last summer.

Glad to see we can show support for our leaders still...

TheSmokingGun: Grand Old Party Pooper? [Via Drudge]

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Ultimate Protection For Your Snail Mail

For all the privacy freaks and those worried about others stealing their mail, Secure Logic brings you the Mail Vault. I wonder if it would be safe to keep other valuables in there as well. If I'm shelling out close to $300 for a mailbox safe, it might as well protect my important documents, too.

Engadget: Theft-Resistant Secure Mail Vault

MailBoxes4Less: Secure Logic Keyless Mailbox

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Dangers of Web Filters To Business

Techdirt is running a story about a case of web filters gone awry...Well, not so much the web filters fault in this case. More of a problem with user interaction with the web filter. Apparently, a British news program aired a video last month which included a web address. When fact-checkers or whoever, went to verify the content of the site in question, they were unable to reach it. They assumed "that the site was no longer active and that there was no need to obscure the address on screen" (ITN via The Register). Turns out the real reason they could not reach the site in question, was the filters built into their firewall blocked the site for content reasons.

The post on Techdirt makes the point that a news organization in particular should not be filtering content on their internet. Since they are providing information out to viewers/readers, why block what information they have access too. I agree, but I think it should apply to businesses in general. Employees need to have access to information in order to do their jobs - particularly in this case (Do they not trust the editor/producer enough to give him unhindered access to the Net?).

Policies should be established on what is appropriate and what is not, with clear consequences for violation of the policy. Granted there are always exceptions, as would be in this case. Any sort of monitoring or logging would have flagged the editor had he actually been allowed to view the site. Once this activity was noted, the editor should have been able to adequately defended his actions as it was the prudent measure. Unless of course he spent the next two hours browsing the site...

Techdirt: The Web Filter That Made A Porn Site Newsworthy

The Register: Want top-notch net porn? Try ITV News

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RIP General Westmoreland

You served the United States honorably and bravely through difficult times. May you be remembered.

Rest In Peace.

Washington Post

How Computers Work 1971 and 1979

This has been all over the place the past few days. I can't even find where I first read about it.

Anyway, someone went out and found the 1971 and 1979 version of How it Works...The Computer and posted the scans on their website. I found it interesting to page through the books and not only compare them to each other, but also to present day.

A good site to check out for any geek.

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Traffic Problem

Asymptomatic is run by one of my neighbors. I found his site by running a search about a problem our neighborhood is suffering. A while back he posted about the traffic problem our neighborhood faced during the school year due to our proximity to a high school. He's got a good summary of the problem and him and I go back and forth in the comments including some updates on what's being done to combat the issue. I especially like the effort he put into the animated gif image illustrating the situation.

I hope the solutions we have worked on with the school A. Get implemented and B. Lessen the extent of the problem. I am optimistic in that the school officials are working with us and that we have their support in getting the traffic down and controlled. Aside from reckless driving, speeding, and horrific attitudes by the students, I really do not mind them using our neighborhood as a way to get to school. But I also have three small children who are playing in that neighborhood almost every day. I'm willing to do what it takes to make sure that the problem goes away before any of the kids (not just mine) are injured.

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Darth Tater and Spud Trooper

Hasbro Toys recently released Darth Tater, a Darth Vader version of Mr. Potato Head. According to Uncrate, in the next few months a Spud Trooper version will be released. I couldn't find anything on Hasbro's website mentioning Spud Trooper, so we'll have to wait and see.

These are "must haves" for any Star Wars fan. Says 2 and up...Does that mean me?


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