Thursday, March 31, 2005

Cornerstone Schedule Released

The 2005 Cornerstone Festival Schedule is now available here.

Biggest scheduling conflict I've noticed so far:
Friday 7:40 PM -- Skillet
Friday 8:00 PM -- Hanover Saints
Friday 8:00 PM -- Life In the Way
Friday 8:15 PM -- The Huntingtons (farewell show)

That's right. On Friday, July 1, I will have to find a way to be four places at once.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Flatfoot 56 In Metromix Contest

Hey all! Go here and vote for Flatfoot 56 in order to help them get some major recognition!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Tooth and Nail deal

Still busy with work and everything else, but here's a quick deal: is selling all Tooth and Nail CD's @ 2 for $15. Check it out here.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Lack of Updates

Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been really busy both with work and personal life. And then when I try posting something here (which has happened twice this week), blogger/blogspot has gone down completely!

So I'll be kinda surprised if this goes through. Anyways, hopefully next week I'll have a little more time to post.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Autoblink Update

The guys at Searchguild have updated the Autoblink code, making it faster and adding an Amazon referral switch option. They've also created a new meta tag, currently unsupported by anyone, that they hope to convince tools like Autolink to honor.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Venezuela Outsourcing ID's To Cuba

This is unsettling.

Maureen Jagmin Resigns


The Sun-Times has the resignation story here.

Maureen's husband, Gary Jagmin, made a very scary defense of his wife:

"It was an overheard conversation between possibly a man and wife," a visibly shaken Gary Jagmin said haltingly. He read a statement in a small board room packed with parents, reporters and school officials. "Should she be judged on what she says in the privacy of her own home, speaking to her husband, in a private conversation?"

He told the board he couldn't tell the context of the conversation from the transcript printed in Tuesday's Sun-Times. He also suggested the caller may have been expressing someone else's opinion, and questioned how the recording ended up on the Sun-Times voice mail.

He asked the board to delay accepting his wife's resignation until she and her lawyer reviewed the recording. But the board already had accepted the resignation.

Gary Jagmin said his wife was a dedicated board member. "Her actions speak louder than her private conversations," he said.

Someone (maybe H. Jackson Brown, Jr.) once said, "Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking." The conversation caught on the Sun-Times voicemail was a candid look at Maureen Jagmin's character and beliefs, and thus just as important -- if not more so -- as her public actions.

But her public actions do show character. For instance, she continues to deny that she is the voice in the recording. Since all the other facts in the matter point to her as the culprit -- the caller ID, the matching names in the recording, her resignation, and the fact that her own husband basically admitted to it by defending her privacy to say such things -- all indications are that her denial is merely an attempt to save face. The right thing to do would be to own up to the responsibility and publicly apologize to the schools she slandered, as the Lincoln-Way school board has already done.

Should she be fired or charged for what she said? No, and she wasn't. Freedom of speech extends to statements such as these, and as a (presumably elected) public official, she can't be forcibly removed from office for making such statements. But though perfectly legal, what she said was morally reprehensible, her actions after the fact have been shortsightedly self-serving, and her husband's defense is ethically bankrupt.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Curtailing My Freedom Of Speech

Check out this interview with Federal Election Commissioner Bradley Smith, titled "The Coming Crackdown On Blogging". The FEC is planning to apply the McCain-Feingold bill to blogs.

What does this mean? Well, McCain-Feingold restricts the contributions from corporations and individuals to political campaigns. In the case of websites and blogs, the FEC is planning to judge "contributions" in interesting ways:

How can the government place a value on a blog that praises some politician?
How do we measure that? Design fees, that sort of thing? The FEC did an advisory opinion in the late 1990s (in the Leo Smith case) that I don't think we'd hold to today, saying that if you owned a computer, you'd have to calculate what percentage of the computer cost and electricity went to political advocacy.

It seems absurd, but that's what the commission did. And that's the direction Judge Kollar-Kotelly would have us move in. Line drawing is going to be an inherently very difficult task. And then we'll be pushed to go further. Why can this person do it, but not that person?

How about a hyperlink? Is it worth a penny, or a dollar, to a campaign?
I don't know. But I'll tell you this. One thing the commission has argued over, debated, wrestled with, is how to value assistance to a campaign.

Corporations aren't allowed to donate to campaigns. Suppose a corporation devotes 20 minutes of a secretary's time and $30 in postage to sending out letters for an executive. As a result, the campaign raises $35,000. Do we value the violation on the amount of corporate resources actually spent, maybe $40, or the $35,000 actually raised? The commission has usually taken the view that we value it by the amount raised. It's still going to be difficult to value the link, but the value of the link will go up very quickly.

. . .

If Congress doesn't change the law, what kind of activities will the FEC have to target?
We're talking about any decision by an individual to put a link (to a political candidate) on their home page, set up a blog, send out mass e-mails, any kind of activity that can be done on the Internet.

Again, blogging could also get us into issues about online journals and non-online journals. Why should CNET get an exemption but not an informal blog? Why should Salon or Slate get an exemption? Should and get an exemption but not online sites, just because the newspapers have a print edition as well?

. . .

So if you're using text that the campaign sends you, and you're reproducing it on your blog or forwarding it to a mailing list, you could be in trouble?
Yes. In fact, the regulations are very specific that reproducing a campaign's material is a reproduction for purpose of triggering the law. That'll count as an expenditure that counts against campaign finance law.

And this will apply to Heroes from the Past, although it's questionable whether the FEC will target such a small blog as this. If I reproduce campaign literature, even if it is with permission and correctly attributed, I may be breaking McCain-Feingold. If I hyperlink to George Bush's campaign website, I may be breaking McCain-Feingold. If I ever incorporate myself (which is a real possibility, longterm) and do any of this, I will probably be breaking McCain-Feingold.

Whatever happened to free speech in this country?

BTW -- who is at least partially to blame?

In 2002, the FEC exempted the Internet by a 4-2 vote, but U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly last fall overturned that decision. "The commission's exclusion of Internet communications from the coordinated communications regulation severely undermines" the campaign finance law's purposes, Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

Smith and the other two Republican commissioners wanted to appeal the Internet-related sections. But because they couldn't get the three Democrats to go along with them, what Smith describes as a "bizarre" regulatory process now is under way.

GodBlogCon 2005

Just heard about this yesterday on Hugh Hewitt's radio show. Here's the latest info. It'll be held at Biola University in California, October 13-15.

I'm thinking about it . . .

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Illinois Sports Blog

Just found a blog dedicated to Illinois Sports, from the Cubs down to high-school stuff. Check out The HH Bullpen.


The Sun-Times has a huge scoop on the SICA story that is going to blow up the secession talk to front-page importance -- perhaps even national news.

A Sun-Times reporter received a call that, according to caller ID, originated at the house of Lincoln-Way district board member Maureen Jagmin. When the caller received voicemail, apparently the phone failed to hang up, and a subsequent conversation was recorded in which the primary speaker was referred to as "Maureen" and referenced another family member by name.

Select quotes from "Maureen":

The caller refers to three mostly black schools that are part of the 35-school conference, the South Inter-Conference Association, or SICA.

"The schools that used to be good like Rich Central, Rich East and Rich South are all failing schools," the woman said. "Why are they failing? Because of what's in 'em. One of the teachers right down the street said he couldn't wait to get the heck out from 30 years ago when he started teaching when it was just the normal kid. I mean it's a zoo."

Earlier, she spoke in general about black people.

". . . It's getting to the point where I'm tired of the welfare, tired of the mentality that poor blackie because let's give them a job so they can be supporting themselves and, be, make them work. You know, forget this I want to be a bum type of thing. I think it's a forever problem in this country, you know, it's never going to go away in this area here."

Jagmin denies that the voice in the recording is she.

For once, I almost agree with Jesse Jackson, Jr:

"The school board member should step down immediately," said Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), whose district includes many SICA schools.

Maybe this is an elaborate fraud, but I think Jagmin should voluntarily suspend herself until the issue is cleared up. But I don't think it will be cleared up -- the evidence, to me, is pretty convincing.