Looking back: FBI director nominee James Comey

The Trump presidency has had its share of controversy. If anything, it has gone from one upheaval to another. Each incident, whether minor or significant, has been amplified, even distorted, for page clicks and profit by the American news media.

Trump’s favorite fake news

I used to read the online New York Times. I often commented on articles. New York Times provides a persistent URL, called a permalink, for each online reader comment. It’s a nice feature!

Too bad the paper’s content isn’t so great. I can do without The 1619 Project, 1oo pages of historical revisionism crammed into an August 2019 New York Times Magazine issue that reveals

a new version of American history in which slavery and white supremacy become the dominant organizing themes.

Former FBI director James Comey

James Comey was nominated as FBI director by President Obama in June 2013 and promptly confirmed by the US Senate.  Given the drama surrounding his role in the 2016 election (i.e. not recommending a Department of Justice investigation of Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server while Secretary of State, then reopening the inquiry a month prior to the general election), followed by President Trump’s controversial dismissal of Comey, I think the Times article covering Comey’s nomination remains of interest. (more…)

US Mint ends production of one dollar coins

Awhile ago, Last Tuesday, 13 December 2011, the U.S. Mint announced that production of one dollar coins is ending.  A few one dollar coins will still be minted for collectors, as required by law:

Instead of producing 70-80 million coins per presidential administration,  the Mint will now only produce as many as collectors order.

These coins will have numismatic value, and as such will cost far more than their $1 face value. Circulating demand for $1 coins will be met with existing Federal Reserve stockpiles until they are depleted.

reverse face of 2010 Native American one dollar coin

$1 coin: Hiawatha belt bundles 5 arrows symbolizing 5 nations of the Iroquois Confederacy via US Mint 2010


The $1 coins would have saved hundreds of millions of dollars, as they are more durable than paper money. Despite being a more sustainable, environmentally friendly alternative to paper currency, they were never popular with the American public: 40% of $1 coins were returned, unwanted, to the Federal Reserve each year.

My favorite $1 coin featured Sacagawea, guide to Lewis and Clark, on the 2010 Native American dollar coin. Sacagawea is on the obverse side. The image above is the reverse side. (more…)

Published in: on 21 June 2020 at 8:10 am  Comments (6)  
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White Lives Matter

flow chart about race

It doesn’t matter what you do; it will never be enough.

Published in: on 20 June 2020 at 9:13 pm  Comments (9)  
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Why is Norway is expanding its armed forces now?

The Norwegian government posted this brief video explicitly for the benefit of English-speaking audiences a few weeks ago. The YouTube comments are turned off, but the description reads as follows,

“We asked the question: Why do we need the armed forces and a military? In the end what do we, as a nation, want to happen? This is the answer.”

The video is brief and well-produced. I’ll provide that referenced answer after the jump just in case anyone will consider it a spoiler for me to do otherwise.


Published in: on 20 January 2019 at 3:38 pm  Comments (2)  
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Ben-Ali departs Tunisia

After decades of autocratic rule, Ben-Ali fled the country last week. Rumors of his whereabouts are numerous. Two of the more likely destinations are Paris or Malta.

Ben Ali a quitté la Tunisie, le Premier ministre prêt à assumer le pouvoir

Tunisia heraldry lion ship scales of justice

Heraldry of Tunisia

Ben-Ali departed on 10 January 2011. The Prime Minister promptly assumed the role of head-of-state.

Since 2000, the people of Tunisia have been unhappy about Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali,

but they have opted to put up with the regime, much as one puts up with diabetes.

I hope for the best for Tunisia. I recall my Roman Republic and 20th century world history classes. Tunisia has a distinguished past: Hannibal, Carthage, Dido and Aeneas. The approximate successor to Carthage is Tunis, the capital.

I am favorably biased, due to my older brother’s wife. Sophie was born in Tunis. Her family was originally from Algeria, five generations ago. They were much happier and more prosperous after emigrating. Sophie told me that Tunis was a lovely city, cosmopolitan and hospitable.

Published in: on 15 January 2011 at 2:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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Political Risk Exposure and Social Media

URL shortening was rarely seen anywhere other than micro-blogging platforms such as Twitter and Status Net’s identi.ca. Shortened URL’s are not prudent from an information security point-of-view, as one takes a leap of faith by clicking on a link that is not descriptive. Descriptive links are also preferable for economic reasons, as they are reputed to figure positively in the mysterious world of search engine optimization (SEO) for page rank.

Yet shortened URL’s are gaining acceptance. They are very convenient.

Coat of arms of Libya public domain image

Libyan Hawk of Qureish via Wikipedia

Twitter introduced its own shortening service in September. Facebook did too. Google provided URL shortening with its goo.gl product in December 2009. Google expanded the range of goo.gl for use on any domain, as it was restricted for use with Google product pages before October. However, there is a new and surprising consideration when making a case for, or against, URL shortening: Political risk exposure.

Top-level domains (TLD’s) are assigned by ICANN. Generally speaking, each sovereign nation has its own TLD. For example, websites registered in Australia use the .au suffix, German sites are .de , while Japanese sites are .jp . The Libyan Government is the official registrar, as designated by ICANN in 2005, for all .ly sites, which are also the domain-of-choice for leading URL shortening services bit.ly , ow.ly and vb.ly .  What will be the consequences of Libya’s domain seizure of vb.ly on October 6, reported by Econsultancy- When All Your Shortlinks Belong to the Libyan Government, on these .ly URLs?

RowFeeder is a social media oriented web analytics service. It stands out from the glut of other Twitter-verse services by delivering reports directly to a spreadsheet. In the RowFeeder company site’s latest post, lead developer and co-founder Damon Cortesi described a new feature for RowFeeder customers: availability of URL shortener bit.ly.

URL shortener feature for RowFeeder service

RowFeeder Offers URL Shortening with bit.ly

You can now put a bit.ly link in the tracking field, and have a new column in your downloads with bit.ly click counts at the time of each post… [storing] the click data along with the Tweets and Facebook posts about a specific piece of content.

In light of the recent disruption in the .ly domain space, I enjoyed the closing lines of the announcement:

Please note: This feature has not been approved by the Libyan government, so count clicks at your own risk. Our vb.ly integration is on hold pending recent news.

*Emphasis is NOT mine.

Published in: on 14 November 2010 at 10:06 pm  Comments (4)  
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U.S. Foreign Policy: State or Federal?

I was reading my hometown paper, The Las Cruces Sun News online version a few days ago and was unsettled after a glance at

Headline: Border governors meeting set for Sept. 19-20 in NM

Why are five governors of Mexico, our neighbor to the south but a foreign power nonetheless, meeting with governors of bordering states in Albuquerque? Doesn’t foreign policy fall under the federal aegis?

Then I thought, “Well, perhaps this is merely a wobble in the balance between State’s Rights versus The Federalist.”

I read the Associated Press news article more closely. It reminded me why foreign policy should be led by the Federal government: the RSVP list from North of the Border showed California and New Mexico attending the September meeting, with Arizona and Texas declining. I presume that Arizona State Bill 1070 regarding immigration law is the polarizing concern. And THAT sums up nicely the rationale for centrally coordinated foreign policy leadership. Solidly Federal-level. So that we remain indivisible, one nation, under… ummm well you know how it goes. No bifurcation. No squabbling. We don’t lose sight of the big picture. Secessionary sentiments remain historical artifacts and the stuff of science fiction nightmares.

I like stability and a unified front. I confess, I am a worrier. I am worried about the State of Our Union.

Published in: on 3 August 2010 at 8:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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