aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Sharpton a crook?
I’m conflicted about Al Sharpton. He was so easy to despise in the late 80s; The Tawana Brawley behavior so deeply despicable.
But by the 90s I already believed he spoke for a disenfranchised, voiceless constituency. He could almost be forgiven. Almost. If only he’d come clean.
Then last year he was such firebrand fun to watch.
The FBI, as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the Rev. Al Sharpton, secretly videotaped him pocketing campaign donations from two shady fund-raisers in a New York City hotel room and then asking for more, it was reported yesterday.
One of the donors was later recorded on a wiretap saying Sharpton may not have reported to the Federal Election Commission tens of thousands of dollars in campaign cash, as is required by the law, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
He says he broke no law. But it sure looks now like the chickens have come home to roost.
Videos counter accounts of Rep convention unrest
Dan Gillmore calls it “by turns infuriating and enlightening—infuriating because of the apparently unpunished official misconduct that it plainly suggests, and enlightening in its demonstration of citizen empowerment.” From the NYTimes today:
A sprawling body of visual evidence, made possible by inexpensive, lightweight cameras in the hands of private citizens, volunteer observers and the police themselves, has shifted the debate over precisely what happened on the streets during the week of the convention.
For Mr. Kyne and 400 others arrested that week, video recordings provided evidence that they had not committed a crime or that the charges against them could not be proved, according to defense lawyers and prosecutors.
Among them was Alexander Dunlop, who said he was arrested while going to pick up sushi.
Last week, he discovered that there were two versions of the same police tape: the one that was to be used as evidence in his trial had been edited at two spots, removing images that showed Mr. Dunlop behaving peacefully. When a volunteer film archivist found a more complete version of the tape and gave it to Mr. Dunlop’s lawyer, prosecutors immediately dropped the charges and said that a technician had cut the material by mistake.
Ruy Teixeira at Donkey Rising has this from Gallup:
....Right now, Gallup’s economic data suggest that a collapse of consumer spending is a much higher probability than many economists within and outside of the Fed seem willing to acknowledge.
Consumers’ optimism about their personal credit situations fell sharply in April, declining 18 points to 82 from the baseline of 100 established in March. The decline was most pronounced in the Future Situation Index, which declined 13 points—from 59 to 46. Compared to March, consumers showed less confidence in their ability to continue to make their monthly payments, less optimism that they will be able to borrow in the future if they need to do so, and a reduced likelihood that they will be able to pay down their debt.
If they get in trouble they face the consequences of the criminally venal bankruptcy bill recently passed in the Senate.
Robots are scary and cool
Jonathan Sullings has a CNET interview with computer scientist and theologian (!) Anne Foerst, author of, “God in the Machine: What Robots Teach Us About Humanity and God.”
What does it take for robots to be like us, to make a robot that functions like a human being?
Foerst: I think the robot would have to have the capability to interact, to form meaningful relationships and to understand the value of those relationships, to understand the difference between me and other, to have empathy. Those would be the things I would describe as most crucial, and I do believe that we can build something like that. But I also do believe that if we cannot build it already ready-made, we have to build them in the way that they, like human babies, go through a process of social learning, and probably for the first critter to be built, that social process will take years and years and years, much longer than for a human baby.
Are we really ready for humanoid robots, to have something that’s not us, it’s not what we’ve known for centuries, living with us?
Foerst: I do not think so and that is why I wrote my book now. I really didn’t expect that, but when I started on my first chapter and suddenly started talking about war, I realized that we are not even capable to assign each other personhood--we are lousy at that. I think as long as we are not capable of assigning (all) humans personhood, we obviously will not be capable of assigning robots personhood. But I think the whole question about whether or not we should helps us then to consider the question of human personhood.
I married a doctor
Doug successfully defended his dissertation at Temple Universtiy in Philadelphia yesterday. He is the first PhD in Music Therapy made in America. (His was the first PhD program in Music Therapy in the states; he’s its first graduate.)
That’s him, with our dogs, in front of his new alma mater.