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14 December 1999

Seen on the new GirlHacker log (from someone I actually knew In Real Life before she started logging -- hi Lilly!), here's a telling bit from Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple) on some funny business the New York Times pulled on him:

  • The Microsoft Monopoly []
    I wrote an editorial that stated flatly that Microsoft was a monopoly and indicated why. ... After months, as I recall, they decided to run it. They sent me a rewritten version that followed the theme of Microsoft being the great innovator. It was a 180 degree reversal, with my name attached. I refused to let them run it and I refused to work on my version because I saw that they were setting me up to be good PR for Microsoft. Then I found out that one of the key Microsoft executives [Gates, I believe - seb] writes a column for the New York Times.

    I'm sure that the New York Times can release either version with my name on it and be protected by the first amendment. But if I were to show you the versions, I'm sure that I'd be guilty of some heinous crime.

I'd love to see the two versions, myself.

Debate notes: Well, that was enlightening.

Most of the Republican candidates did a bangup job last night of reminding me why I don't want them in office either. Flag desecration amendments? Honestly.

And George W. Bush, when asked to name the most influential thinker on his political life, pulled out Christ. Gee, George, that sure is ... admirable, but I'm a little unclear what Jesus' position was on trade, flat taxes and intervention in other countries' conflicts. Maybe you can enlighten us.

Keyes blithely dismissed the Microsoft case, and Hatch quite handily defended the government's actions (one of the few things Orrin Hatch has worked on that I like...). It's clear that Keyes and Forbes haven't actually read the complaints against Microsoft since they insist on framing it as 'punishing Microsoft for succeeding' and not about penalizing Microsoft for highly questionable business practices. Does Keyes support businesses ignoring the law? Or is he just being disingenuous?

Where do I find the rules for campaign donations? I know I can't give more than $1000 to a candidate (not that I'd get even close to that number), but are there restrictions as to how many different candidates I can give to? And do I have to keep it within one party? I don't expect so, but you never know.

I'm a member of no party (and don't plan to join any), but I certainly have relative preferences among the field such as it is.

This Thursday will be another newsy political night -- George W. Bush will be interviewed on Larry King Live, and McCain and Bradley will be on Nightline [ABCNews] in what promises to be a very unusual joint appearance.

Friday will see the return of the Democrats' "town meetings", 10:35pm (!) Central on ABC.

Ooh, I like this idea:

  • Names that live in infamy: Killers want notoriety. Let's not give it to them by David Brin [Salon, seen on Backup Brain]
    Courts already do have some authority to order name-changes. Suppose that power were widened -- any criminal sentenced for a truly heinous crime could be renamed as part of his punishment, with a moniker that invites disdain. New history books might state: "Robert F. Kennedy was slain in 1968 by Doofus 25 *." The asterisk is there to let anyone find the assassin's former name in a footnote, if they are truly interested, so no one is actually suppressing knowledge. Nevertheless, the emphasis on a new moniker will take hold.

    However it's done, won't it make sense for ridicule to replace some of the grotesque fashionableness that's now attached to terror? It would reflect society's determination to allocate fame properly, to those who earn it. We would be saying -- "You can't win celebrity this way. By harming innocents, you're only destroying your own name."

    Pragmatically speaking, it could contribute to breaking today's vicious feedback loop by denying sociopaths the attention they crave...

In all sorts of fictional magical systems (Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy, for one), there is great power in naming; changing a murderer's name seems like a fine use of the power names have in real life, particularly the part about any publicity being good publicity.

The hard part would be finding a name that wouldn't be adopted as a badge of honor by criminals. ("You're 'Gangster 583'? Dude, I'm 'Criminal 22789'! It's an honor to meet you, man.") I'm sure calling them 'clown' would never fly; lawsuits galore in that one from the Clown Anti-Defamation Squad. Maybe a new word would be needed, or 'doofus' might be good enough. Dunno.

He's right that it wouldn't work to simply declare the change; newspapers and journalists would have to participate voluntarily... on the flip side, we don't need a law in place to change how we refer to people like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold; we can do as we please with their names now; who knows, the meme might propagate.

So: any suggestions? I'll start the bidding at Idiots 14 and 15.

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