Just a quick and dirty screed tonight about “evoting.” By that I mean the diebold touchscreen receiptless system.

To get into the technical issues involved would be rather redundant and overall skirts the real issue with the horrendous security of these devices and this voting solution. That issue is the trust of the process, the verifiability of the result, and the freedom from question that it requires.

I’m going to walk out on a limb here and predict that we will see a major post-election crisis as literally hundreds of elections nationwide are brought into deep question and are found to be in an unresolvable state. Why?

Simple: when you can’t verify a vote, and the numbers are so close, you have a huge opportunity for major challenges. The courts get involved, and Tylenol stock goes through the roof. What we saw in 2000 was just a taste of what can happen. It got ugly fast, but luckily there was a built-in release valve. It was one race; yes, one of the most important, but the US Supreme Court was able to step in and for good or ill end the process as it stood.

This year we have a lot of races going on for all sorts of positions across the country. It’s a highly contentious year, with the balance of the US Legistlature in the balance not to mention a number of state and local elections as hotly contested. The turnout may be slightly higher than average, but even if it’s below average you can expect the races to be close all over. A close race means that every vote counts: the ones for A, B, and the ones that get thrown out, all are vital.

Throw into that mix the truth that these new voting machines are inherently insecure and leave no possibilty for verification of the results, and you have a Constitutional crisis that will serve to discredit the election of everything from City Librarian up to Governor and Senator. A big mess, a colossal waste of money, and a lot of people wondering how the hell things got so screwed up.

The bright side is that hopefully a lot of the races will have to be rerun due to irregularities and questionable/unverifiable results, and that the second time around people will think harder about who allowed the broken process to be used, and kick them out. Probably not, but at the least maybe we’ll have real elections.

South Park Conspiracy

Personally it’s been awhile since I watched SP, but I thought I’d check this episode out. I really expected more. While it’s obvious that the conspiracy theories often go overboard, the bottom line is that the official story does not account for the entirety of the events of September 11th, and that the official story is, by definition, a conspiracy theory.

Due to the mixture of gung-ho nationalist sentiments, the media and political interests, and the all-eggs-in-one-basket alternative conspiracy theories, I doubt we’ll ever know the truth about 9/11. It’s sad and shameful that we are forced into believing either the government was responsible or that the “facts” that we’re told about things like Building 7 make sense. I don’t buy either one, but the third option isn’t for me to offer a new conspiracy, just to remind everyone that we should have had a full investigation (and kept the debris to examine it thoroughly).

We shouldn’t have had 9/11 and yet no one blames Bush for letting it happen. I’m not saying he knew about it; I’m saying whether he knew about it or not they did not respond properly to the attacks. He’s never taken blame for it. He plies his rhetoric about defending the country being his most important job. How he can reconcile that with his failure to do the same is beyond me. Anyone with any integrity in any job would not behave as he has in the face of such an unbelievable failure.

Of course, you don’t see the SP boys using their soapbox to bring these points to bear. Instead they’re lost in their world of a few boner jokes, a few shit in the urinal jokes, and wrap it up in a “conspiracies are retarded” bait and switch. I’ll be the first to admit that conspiracies are, as a rule, way off base; alternatively the general sentiment that drives the theorists to seek answers is usually a mixture of genuine want of truth and a coping mechanism to deal with the cognative dissonance.

Such dissonance is formed by the unending rhetoric of protectionism by the government after 9/11 and the actual realities of 9/11, the anthrax cases, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. They see their fellow citizens supporting the president, the wars, the new laws, and the profits of large corporations that clean up (both literally and figuratively) as a result of disasters. So their attempt to reconcile these things is to construct intricate stories (on the scale of at least Biblical/Mythological story telling to explain the unknown). What’s more, their reaction is in many ways fueled by the coping mechanism of a majority who felt the need to quell their dissonance by increasing consonance as patriotism, nationalism, etc.

Yeah, I guess it would be unfair for me to expect South Park to deal with these things. It’d be nice if someone did, though.

Shield Your Eyes

I’ve once again updated my little java graphics applet just for the hell of it. This time it’s somewhere between psychedelic and painful, so be cautious: here.

Just for the record I try to keep these things running fast, but I only test on my machine. I will say that this one used a little more of my processor running through a browser than it did when I was developing it. If you have trouble running it or think it’s lame, let me know. Peace.

2006 NIE…

“And it’s on the front page of your newspapers. Isn’t that interesting?”

It is interesting. What? The April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate. That we see it at all is damned interesting.

What’s more interesting is that Bush says it’s politically motivated. Of course it’s politically motivated. That’s kind of the point: the people should have every right to properly evaluate their government’s actions, and at no time is that more important than when we are about to vote to change the government.

In ten or twenty years, maybe fifty, maybe two hundred, governments of the world will have requirements such as providing transparency and status reports and updates that allow the evaluation of their practices by their bosses. Until then we take what we can get. If you want to out-politic ’em, George, you’d better confess. It’s the only way you will.

And this is just a ramble. Let me know if you’ve got a Approval-Gas graph link that’s newer than the one I linked (last updated in March).