Fred Thompson – Ne’er a solid answer to be found…

Sunday morning on Meet the Press, Fred Thompson was grilled…

  • War in Iraq – he thinks we should be there, but get out, and we have some progress on the ground, and that the generals should decide things, but that we should not be there and that we were wrong for going there.
  • Abortion – he is personally pro-life, but against constitutional ammendments or laws to prohibit abortion. he thinks its ok for woment to get abortions and that state’s should have the right to make their own laws.
  • Gun Control – he is against having guns on campuses, but thinks students ought to be able to carry guns on campuses, and would leave it to the state to make their own laws, and for the campus to have their own rules.

This is just a small sampling of the backwashed beating around the bush answers he gave for 30 minutes. Apparently his strategy for winning is to not have a position on anything, and thus be for everything and everyone, and not give anyone an excuse to like him or hate him.

Really? Is that the best you can do? But what else can I expect from a man who took a full year to even have a well-articulated position on whether or not he was running!

Here’s a good example.. listen to his answer on the gun issue.

Weekend Extra: Utah Votes on School Vouchers

Utah MapForeword:Next week, Utah voters will cast their ballot on a referendum for a School Voucher Program. Basically, the law (in this incarnation) provides a graduated tax credit for low and middle income families who choose to send their children to private schools. The scale is based on combined parental income and number of children in the household.


I am against school vouchers, because it is defacto support for religious and special interest education.

Think “Warren Jeffs’ School for Future Wife Beaters and Child Molesters.” Think “Al-Queda in America Future Terrorists School.” …all supported with your tax dollars.What about Spanish speaking schools? The “No Se Habla Ingles Aqui” School. Immigrant youth will now NEVER learn English, and your tax dollars will fund it! How do you feel about it now?

Vouchers would divide and segregate our schools and communities along religious and cultural boundaries once more, and each child will receive a radically variable, dogmatic, pre-processed world view. Vouchers would turn back the clock on the pluralism and diversity that we have worked so hard to build in our schools ever since the Civil Right’s Movement and school integration.

I know, I know. This coming from a guy who went to one of the most conservative, religious, dogmatic private universities in the country?? Let me explain the difference. Primary and Secondary school is all about parent choice, while Higher Education is all about student choice. While a student is in primary and secondary school, they are young, impressionable, and not able to think much for themselves. They are prone to being indoctrinated. (Think “Blood Diamond”) By the time a student hits college, they are becoming their own independent and critical thinker. They can make informed choices about their education, and what type of institution will fit them best. Primary and Secondary schools benefit from being a “Sesame Street” view of the world, where we have all races, religions and types of people. Where all learn to play on a playground together and discover that they are more the same than they are different.

Our public school system needs a shake up, I’ll admit. We need to make teaching a competitive profession, where teachers are paid for performance. For you Social Darwinists out there, we also need to realize that not every child will be a “straight A” math and science student, and still find ways to reach out to every student and help them be (and feel) successful. (remember the days when we had metal shop and music classes?)

To further complicate the issue, Dubbya, as the leader of the Republican party, made the biggest gaffe in party history with No Child Left Behind, the largest federalization of a state program since FDR.

We already have school choice. They are called private, magnet, public and charter schools. You can take your pick! I do think school choice should be extended to being able to choose any school in your local school district (forfeiting certain privileges such as busing).

We all love capitalism, and I think schools could benefit from some market-based pressures to be competitive and produce. However, remember that above all, market economies are never FAIR. They put efficiency above all else, and that is a recipe for disaster for many aspects of education. (read: cutting of sports and arts programs)

All this referendum would do for Utah is give middle class and poor people a small stipend to send their children to private schools run by religious fanatics. And for a state who’s already defined nationally as a religious nut-house, that can’t be a good thing.

The War on Cookies Begins

cookiesI typically don’t burden you, my reader, with silly matters of “nerd business.” By that, I mean stuff about coding and electronics and how stuff works. In posts regarding technology, I usually try to stick to matters you might actually care about.

Well, you will care about this, so listen up.

Some internet privacy action group is now asking the FCC to implement a national “Do Not Track” list, similar to the nation’s “Do Not Call” list. The theory behind it is that they want the internet to remain an anonymous place, and that sites shouldn’t use ‘cookies’ to track your internet browsing behaviors.

At first glance, everyone can get behind this. I mean, we live in a society which is open and free and where you can’t “spy” on each other legally. Americans, above all others, believe and value a right to privacy.

However, let me tell you a little about “cookies” which might change your mind.

Cookies are small files that your internet browser collects when it goes visiting websites. The websites puts information in these cookies so that next time the browser returns to that page, it can remember stuff about it.

Cookies are the little things that are make it possible for you to stay ‘logged in’ to a particular site (like your webmail service, your blog, or your family website) after you’ve closed your browser or navigated away from the page. Cookies also remember information you commonly enter into a website, like your username or email address.

Cookies typically DO NOT track personal information about a person. They usually don’t know your name, your email, your credit card number, etc.  Furthermore, websites can ONLY set cookies it’s own name (I can’t set a cookie that will pretend to be from gmail), and sites can’t mine the other cookies for information.

Below is the content of a typical cookie. This one is from the Hotmail service and has the filename jss@hotmail.msn.txt (.txt is the standard filename extension for text files):

HMP1 1 0 1715191808
32107852 1236821008 29449527 *

The code will only make sense to Microsoft’s MSN Hotmail servers.

For more information on cookies, visit

Now that i’ve described now innocuous most cookies are, and how everyone needs to get their panties out of a wad about having a few on their computer, let me tell you why this is FCC stuff is really a bunch of nonsense.

1. The internet doesn’t need to be any more anonymous. And the anonymity of the internet is really a myth anyway. Everyone gets their internet service from some service provider, and service providers track their subscribers. Anyone with a valid subpoena can find out what you’ve been doing online. Sorry.

2. I LIKE targeted advertisements! I want my computer to know exactly who I am and anticipate what I want. I hate seeing ads I don’t want to see. Having ad companies (like google) know a little bit about my location, sites I visit, or recent items I’ve been looking for allows them to show me ads I really might actually click on.

Imagine… Happily married couples will stop hearing about singles websites. Healthy individuals will stop having to see drug commercials. Pop music lovers won’t have to listen to rap or hip hop music ads. And most importantly, niche markets and products actually get a chance of reaching each their target audience. Yes. In my mind, a targeted advertising world is a much happier world for me.

3. There are MILLIONS of web developers around the world (like me) developing websites who might utilize a cookie every now and again. Now these sites will have to ‘check in’ with some underpowered, underfunded national database registry (trust me, the gov’t won’t be running server farms like google) for EVERY visitor and find out if they are in the database. This will totally slow down the internet, ruin the user experience on your site, and drive up development costs. Many programmers don’t really even have the know-how to implement such checks.

Users already have a “do not track” mechanism… go into your browser options, disable cookies, and crank up your security. I had NO control over my published phone number, thus necessitating the Do Not Call list. Internet users, on the other hand, have INFINITE control over their PCs and Security settings.

Too much regulation! Soon they’ll be regulating the regulation.