28 years of “You Light Up My Life”

I’m a big supporter of moving back to a 28 year maximum term on copyrights. I’ve been thinking about how to describe that, and I think I’ve come up with one way of doing it. Rupert Holmes would still be able to earn a living off of his 1979 hit “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”, but Debby Boone would just now be asked to hop off of the “You Light Up My Life” gravy train that left the station in the fall of 1977. I think that that’s more than enough economic motivation society should provide to ensure the creation of such … (ahem) … classics.

“Playing politics” is Bush-speak for “thinking critically”

It seems that whenever Bush or the Republicans trot out the phrase “playing politics”, they really mean “thinking critically”.  Just visit the following links, and replace the phrase “playing politics” with “thinking critically” to see what I mean.

“But here’s the question.  The question is, how do you respond to [the intelligence failures]?  Do you respond to it by correcting the intelligence, or do you do what the Democrats are doing, which is [thinking critically] with it.  And I think the president’s point was at this critical moment in this critical war, with this central front in the war on terror, [thinking critically] is not what we should be doing.”  Chairman of the Republican Party, Ken Mehlman – Transcript for November 13 – Meet the Press, online at MSNBC – MSNBC.com

Some of our elected leaders have opposed this war all along. I disagreed with them, but I respect their willingness to take a consistent stand. Yet some Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force are now rewriting the past. They are [thinking critically] with this issue and they are sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. And that’s irresponsible.  President Delivers Remarks at Elmendorf AFB on War on Terror

I’m sure there are other substitutions that can be made, for “sending mixed signals” and “rewriting the past”.  In fact, I’m beginning to think it’s possible to translate Bush-speak into something intelligible.  Heh…nevermind…I can’t believe I just said that.

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Electowidget

For the past couple of months, I’ve been working on Electowidget. Electowidget is a plugin for MediaWiki designed to make it possible to conduct Internet polls and elections using many different voting systems, including the Schulze method, Instant Runoff Voting, Approval voting, and even plain old Plurality.

Electowidget isn’t designed for secure public elections. Rather, it’s designed for the types of informal polls and elections that currently happen on wikis today. It’s also designed as a tool to help election theorists provide comparitive examples of how a given result will be tabulated comparing multiple different systems.

All data is stored on wiki pages, in JSON format, and some parts of the system currently require you to get your hands dirty editing JSON. My next step is to hide as much of the JSON away from the end user as possible, so that editing raw JSON
isn’t necessary. One nice bit about JSON is that it’s a very machine-friendly format, so I don’t anticipate that step being too tough to accomplish.

The ultimate goal is to make a library that can plugged into most any CMS or other PHP application. A lot of the functionality is already such that this is possible.

This work is seemingly unrelated to my work on Spectaclar (user management project), but there is a tie-in. I’ve done some initial work on a CMS-independence layer which can be helpful in porting plugins to different CMS systems. I haven’t decided yet just how far I’ll take this, but I keep this idea in the back of my mind whenever I’m in that part of the code.

Anyway, I hope people find this useful. I anticipate it’ll be useful for at least some of the things I’m doing, so I suppose that’s good enough for me.