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April 24, 2003


Movable Type for the Masses
I'm in.

Greg G. @ 12:10 AM | # |

April 23, 2003


May My Father Never Sit Me Down for This Conversation
From Sour Bob:
Stories I Will Have To Retire, Volume Two
or, Your Honeymoon May Have A Different Focus

The following is a transcription, as close as I can remember, of my father's advice to me on planning the honeymoon for my ill-fated first marriage.

"You're planning your honeymoon soon, I know, and there are a few things I want to make sure you keep in mind. Because you see on a honeymoon, you... (pause) ...well, when two people go on their honeymoon, traditionally, they... (long pause) ...Well, you see your mother and I... (even longer pause) ...we had never... (momentary, but still unbearably awkward pause) ...and so you see, we were really mostly interested in... (unbelievably long, awful, awkward pause) ...and so, for us, going on our honeymoon was really about... (extraordinarily long, uncomfortable pause, during which I have time to drink approximately 2.5 beers) ...yeah. . . ."

Believe it or not, it gets worse.

Greg G. @ 11:34 PM | # |

April 22, 2003


Legislative Notes: So, How Goes the Lobbying?:
My aching back and I are still recovering from putting in long hours at the Capitol last week — and the session's still not over — but last Thursday, as Ice Cube might have put it, was a good day. Long story short:
  • The Georgia Water Coalition legislative team, with which I have the unalloyed pleasure of working, gave proponents of water permit trading — see here, here and here for background, but suffice it to say that it's bad news — a hard smacking, as senators decided to scuttle the idea on a 45-6 vote. (HB 237: link.) Georgia residents: follow this link to send an e-mail urging your representatives to accept the permit trading-free version of the bill.
  • Meanwhile, the Georgia Alliance for Tobacco Prevention — which I'm also aligned with — finally got a win last week, persuading House Democrats to swallow their resentments and help the Republican administration of Gov. Sonny Perdue pass a tobacco user-fee increase by a razor-thin one vote majority. (HB 379: link.) It's unclear whether the GOP-controlled Senate will go along with the proposal — but lawmakers will have a devilish time balancing the budget without it.

    My efforts on that one have been somewhat limited; one man can only do so much work. If eloquent press releases could pass legislation, we would have gotten the bill to the governor's desk by now — but sadly, life doesn't work that way. It was truly yeomanlike work by my colleagues from a constellation of groups — the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Georgia PTA, the American Cancer Society — that made last week's success happen. Give them a big round of applause.

  • On the flip side: the MPAA-backed cable and broadband piracy bill that — how could people not notice this? — inadvertently outlaws personal firewalls and e-mail encryption — was introduced in Georgia last month, and gets an airing before a House subcommittee this week. (HB 867: link.) Problematic as this legislation is — and that's being polite — it's spreading like wildfire right now, thanks to MPAA shamelessness about taking advantage of the lack of tech savvy on the part of most lawmakers. [See these pages, along with these articles, for more information on the phenomenon.]

    From all appearances, the MPAA drafted the bill in an effort to legislate personal video recorders (PVR) — such as those licensed by TiVo and ReplayTV — out of existence. The MPAA can't come out and say that, because using legislation to reverse the decisions of the marketplace goes against the American grain — so it instead drafted language so nebulous that it would, if interpreted literally, outlaw a common VCR.

    Members of the cult of TiVo, you've been warned: educate yourselves now, or risk having the future of television become part of the past.

    News of the legislation sparked an interesting collaboration here; I linked up with a fellow lobbyist to pool our efforts against it . . . after reading a post about it on his blog. Use of e-mail and blogging have enabled us to keep each other fully armed with the latest information — and I've also managed to link up, as I've worked, with people at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and elsewhere to get other interested parties in the legal and academic communities involved.

    I'll post more comments after this Wednesday's hearing.

More: Track the state-level cable and broadband piracy legislation, also known as "super-DMCA" legislation, through Google News.

Greg G. @ 12:57 AM | # |

April 21, 2003


And This Month's Book Selection . . .
. . . is a curveball: The Human Stain, by Philip Roth. Here's a New York Times review, written by Michiko Kakutani.

Thanls for all the suggestions about possible picks. You make me think we ought to get an online book club together once this is all done. Maybe a round robin book-of-the-month arrangement — with, say, Esta making the choice one month, Jessica or Tim the next, and so on.

What say ye?

On another note, I can't wait for this book — by Michael Lewis, about baseball — to come out. Doesn't that combination sound unbeatable?

Greg G. @ 11:39 PM | # |


This Is Not the Greatest Post in the World . . .
. . . this is just a tribute — a tribute to Nina Simone, the legendary and fiery-tempered jazz vocalist, who died today at her home in the south of France. She was 70.

Kieran Healy gets it just right:

Here’s a collection of hers that has some of her best recordings, including “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, “Mississippi Goddamn” and the astonishing "I Put a Spell on You". The clip doesn’t do it justice: In particular, you don’t get to hear her sing And I don’t care if you don’t want me, I’m yours right now. Brrr.

I'm more partial to this collection from later in her career, myself — but you could start anywhere in her catalog and not go wrong.

I'm only glad I got to know her work. A roommate hipped me to her when I first moved to Chicago, and I've been listening to her ever since — especially after my father let me finger through his LP collection. What a find.

Greg G. @ 11:19 PM | # |


Legislative Notes: The Flag Gets Supersized:
[Reprinted from the Political State Report.]

Amidst the ongoing uproar about Georgia's state flag, a key detail managed to escape the notice of the state's lawyers: the banner that Governor Perdue wants the state to adopt is too big.

In a report published last Friday, political correspondent Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that the bill that would consign the Barnes-era flag to history (HB 380: link | House vote) establishes some unusual geometric parameters for its replacement:

§ 1(a). The flag of the State of Georgia shall . . . be three horizontal bands. The bottom horizontal band shall be red and shall occupy one-third of the entire flag. The center horizontal band shall be white and shall occupy two-thirds of the length of the flag and shall bear the words 'IN GOD WE TRUST' which words shall be the same blue color as the square field of blue. The top horizontal band shall be red and shall occupy two-thirds of the length of the flag. The remainder of the space shall be a square, one-third of the length of the flag, nearest to the flagstaff, consisting of a field of blue, centered upon which shall be placed a representation of the great seal containing the coat of arms of the state, and such seal shall be encircled by 13 white five-pointed stars.

the flag proposed by the Perdue administration

The Perdue administration's proposed flag

Because the legislation calls for a square that covers a third of the length of the new flag and two-thirds of its height, any banner produced under this proposal must — according to its definition — be twice as wide as it is tall. A three-foot tall flag — a height found in common use around the country — would have to be six feet wide.

Problem is, the accepted standard flag size is three feet by five feet. The Perdue administration's flag proposal is a foot too long.

The discovery of the flawed dimensions in the bill further complicates the debate over the flag, which is now pressing against the limits of the calendar as the General Assembly enters the last two business days of this year's session. Leaders in the Senate — under pressure to schedule the bill for a vote before adjournment — fear that allowing an amedment to correct the proposal would open the door to a flurry of proposed alterations, spawning a debate that would halt the progress of other measures awaiting approval. With the 2004 appropriations bill (HB 122: link | House vote | Senate vote) still mired in conference committee, a time-consuming debate could prevent a final vote on the budget and force the legislature to return to the Capitol for a special session.

A senior senator counsels his colleagues to look the other way:

Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson, a Republican, said he expected flag makers would overlook the bill's flawed description.

Yet Secretary of State Cathy Cox, a Democrat, said her office could not overlook the specifications. If the bill were enacted as it is written, Cox said, she would order 25,000 of the new, elongated flags for distribution to cities and counties throughout the state.

"We have very little leeway in these matters," Cox said.

One of the largest flag manufacturers in the state said Thursday that if such a flag were displayed inside on a standard pole, it would nearly touch the ground. If outside, the larger flag would contrast oddly with the U.S. flag, which usually is displayed beside it, said Bob Rosenthal, co-owner of Atlas Flags Inc. in Tucker.

"It would look ridiculous. It's out of proportion," Rosenthal said. "We'd end up being the laughingstock of the country."
Plans tentatively call for the Senate to take up the flag bill before the end of the week.

Greg G. @ 10:27 PM | # |