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September 20, 2004

What's Blooming in September

Aster (wild white and lavender)
Butter and Eggs
Hosta (honeybell, medium)
Mums (brick red, deep pink, yellow, deep orange)
Pansies (white/purple, pink/yellow/deep red)
Primerose (pink)

What Bloomed in August

Balloon Flower (white)
Black Eyed Susans
Chives (garlic)
Daylilies (orange)
False Sunflowers
Hollyhock (white)
Orange Tiger Lily (in full)
Snapdragon (white)

What Bloomed in July

Astible (white)
Clematis (dark purple)
Coneflowers (regular purple)
Daisies (Shasta, Yellow)
Daylilies (orange, golden gopher, pink)
Hens & Chicks
Hostas (minature)
Hostas (variegated)
Jewelweed (pink) (through Sept.)
Lilies (orange asiatic, orange tiger, yellow asiatic, pink tigers, stargazers, white asiatic, yellow tiger)
Phlox (lavender, purple/white)
Sage (light blue)
Sedum (stonecrop)

What Bloomed in June

Asiatic Dayflower (through end of summer) (not my picture of course)
Blood Red Cranesbill (not my picture again)
Clematis (Medium Purple)
Columbine (Pink)
Columbine, wild
Daisy (pink)
Evening Primrose
Iris (dutch, siberian, Grandma's)
Heuchera (standard)
Japanese Lotus (this is according to the neighbor from whose yard they have begun to volunteer
Roses (Pink, Wild)

What Bloomed in May

Golden Gopher Irises
Shasta Daisies
Purple Columbine
Pink Rockfoil

September 9, 2004

There's a limit to useful abstractions

So as I was writing my silly little Songs o' Summer Conventions, I saw on TV an ad paid for by the Department of Homeland Security's Ready.gov unit. It consisted of little league players, who, one at a time, listed a person's name and phone number.

Then, there was a brief voiceover saying something vague about "Make plans. Be ready." Then they flashed the "Ready.gov".

Ohhh-kayy. Well, I know *lots* of phone numbers. So I must be really, really ready... What for? I don't know. 'S ok though - doesn't seem to matter.

Sigh. You know, I'm all for taxing and spending, but c'mon, make it worth the effort.

Take a hint from Dick Cheney: indicate the ways in which we should prepare for the armageddon that's sure to follow if we're foolish enough to vote for Kerry. By the way, how does he know? I mean, is he planning to make sure that there'll be a terrorist attack if we don't vote for Shrub?

Songs I couldn't get out of my head during this summer's political conventions

Democratic National Convention:
Can't always get what you want - Rolling Stones
Two out of Three Ain't Bad - Meat Loaf

Republican National Convention:
Don't Believe the Hype - Public Enemy
Flirtin' with Disaster - Molly Hatchet
I think I'm going to Kill Myself - Elton John (a bouncy little ragtime tune!)
Won't Get Fooled Again - Who

Also, Sometimes When We Touch, but I really hope that one was unrelated...

Surreal Life V

From the Federation of American Scientists:

A proposed Freedom of Information Act exemption for commercial satellite imagery would severely restrict public access to a broad swath of unclassified government information.

The proposed exemption, already approved in the Senate, awaits consideration this month in a House-Senate conference committee.

Almost every clause of the proposed exemption embodies patent hostility to the conventions of open government and public access to government information.

Thus, the exemption would apply not only to commercial satellite images acquired by the government, but would also broadly exclude "any... other product that is derived from such data."

This means that maps, reports, and any other unclassified government analyses or communications that are in some way "derived from" a commercial satellite image would all of a sudden become inaccessible through FOIA.

Not only that, but "any State or local law relating to the disclosure of information or records" would be preempted and nullified when it comes to imagery or imagery-derived information.

And more: the provision would not merely "exempt" all of this information, but would positively "prohibit" its disclosure. Government officials would be barred from releasing it under FOIA even if they wanted to.

September 8, 2004

Surreal Life IV

In July the Dept. of Justice suddenly noticed that there were publications in the Federal Depository Library Program (or up to about 1200 libraries) that they wanted withdrawn. They ranged from 1 to 4 years old.

Eventually, the DOJ realized that the publications really ought not be withdrawn. See http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/GODORT/legislation/#removal for the background.

In the meantime, a publication called the Administrative Notes, which is published by the Government Printing Office, had in its July 15 issue, the order to withdraw the requested publications.

Now the original July issue has been replaced with a double July-August issue in which there is no mention of the whole DOJ debacle.

Now, I'm a little cranky about the Gvt. Printing Office, the one agency that should know better, trying to rewrite the past. So, read on for the text from the July 15 order (which includes all the titles requested for withdrawal). One day, you might run across them on a library shelf with a big, red "WITHDRAWN" stamp on the front and a big X over the stamp...

July 20, 2004

Dear Depository Librarian:

The Department of Justice has asked the Superintendent of Documents to instruct depository libraries to destroy all copies of the materials listed below. Please withdraw these materials immediately and destroy them by any means to prevent disclosure of their contents. The Department of Justice has determined that these materials are for internal use only.

Documents to be removed and destroyed:

Title: Civil and Criminal Forfeiture Procedure
Class: J 1.2:C 49/17
Item no: 0717
Shipping list: 2004-0276-M
Shipping list date: May 7, 2004

Title: Select Criminal Forfeiture Forms
Class: J 1.2:F 76/8
Item no.: 0717
Shipping list: 2004-0038-P
Shipping list date: December 12, 2003

Title: Select Federal Asset Forfeiture Statutes
Class: J 1.2:AS 7/2/2004
Item no.: 0717
Shipping list no.: 2004-0077-P
Shipping list date: February 5, 2004

Title: Asset forfeiture and money laundering resource directory
Class: J 1.89/3:M 74/2004
Item no.: 0717 A 11
Shipping list no. 2004-0120-P
Shipping list date: March 24, 2004

Title: Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA), PL no.
106-185, 114 Stat. 202 (2000)
Class: J 1.2:C 49/16
Item no: 0717
Shipping list no.: 2000-0367-P
Shipping list date: September 23, 2000

Both GPO and the U.S. Department of Justice regret any inconvenience resulting from this request and we appreciate your cooperation.


Superintendent of Documents

Surreal Life III

The Pentagon made a video for its staff explaining staffpersons' responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which are, in short, to release any requested government documents that don't violate privacy, endanger national security and a few other exemptions. FOIA does *not* have an exception for copyright.

They put copyrighted content into the video, but couldn't get reproduction rights from the copyright holders.

Therefore, the Pentagon has released an edited version of the video.

Now they're refusing to release the original version requested by FOIA requests, even though copyright isn't, as noted above, a reason for not fulfilling FOIA requests.

See Yahoo News for more.

My question: who was the moron who included copyrighted content for which permission could not be obtained?

Surreal Life II

From an email I received:
The FCC has decided that information about telephone service outages has
national security implications and will no longer be available to the
public. Those who disagree say that the information is critical to measuring
phone reliability by various companies. See the news item in the
Washington Post. (Free Registration Required)

Or, try Wireless Week

September 3, 2004

Surreal Life 1

8/17/04: American Library Association submits comments to the Dept. of Homeland Security objecting to the DHS's attempt to keep away from the public information which is specifically intended for public review under the National Envrionmental Policy Act.

It's a little complicated, but in essence, DHS claims they can withhold information not because they have authority to do so, but because they've defined the information they want to withhold in a way that matches the definition of Critical Infrastructure Information. Thing is, definitions in statutes (what DHS cites as authority) are just definitions. They don't give agencies the right to actually do anything. That's what the rest of a law is for.

As ALA points out:

In Section 6.2(A) of the proposed directive, DHS asserts authority to withhold CII “as defined in 6 U.S.C. 131(3)” of the Critical Infrastructure Information Act (CII Act).
However, this subsection does not grant DHS authority to withhold information; it
merely defines CII. Moreover, the subsection defines CII as “information not
customarily in the public domain and related to the security of critical infrastructure or protected systems.” Congress did create, in a subsequent section, a statutory exemption to FOIA for CII thus defined only if two further conditions are met, namely, if the CII

(1) “is voluntarily submitted to a covered Federal agency,” (6 U.S.C. 133(a)) and (2) is not independently obtained by “a State, local, or Federal Government
entity, agency, or authority, or any third party.” (6 U.S.C. 133(c))

Information contained in environmental-study documentation is customarily in the public domain as long as that information does not fall within one of the narrow exemptions under FOIA.

September 2, 2004

Testing Find It

Patterns of international terrorism: 1980

Thick as a Brick II

Yesterday, Barney, my husband, was biking home from work. It was warm and a woman in a BMW in the lane next to him had her windows open while talking on the phone.

She was complaining about the other drivers because no-one would let her make a left turn.

From the right lane.

In rush hour.

Onto a highway.