Romania has passed legislation mandating that half of all newscasts must be upbeat news
The measure is the idea of two senators -- one from the governing National Liberal Party, the other from the far-right Great Romania party -- who bemoan the "irreversible effect" of negative news "on the health and life of people".
Its aim, they said, is to "improve the general climate and to offer to the public the chance to have balanced perceptions on daily life, mentally and emotionally".
Clearly the change should be easy - move all actions of the legislature for the sadly real to the patently and laughably ridiculous column.
Labels: broadcasting, government, law, radio, television
Would the FBI Bend the Truth?
The answer to the above question is apparently yes, as this Wired article suggests
Counterterrorism officials in FBI headquarters slowed an investigation into a possible conspirator in the 2005 London bombings by forcing a field agent to return documents acquired from a U.S. university. Why? Because the agent received the documents through a lawful subpoena, while headquarters wanted him to demand the records under the USA Patriot Act, using a power the FBI did not have, but desperately wanted.
At this July 27, 2005 hearing, FBI Director Robert Mueller pushed the Senate Judiciary Committee to give FBI agents expanded spying powers. .
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta When a North Carolina State University lawyer correctly rejected the second records demand, the FBI obtained another subpoena. Two weeks later, the delay was cited by FBI director Robert Mueller in congressional testimony as proof that the USA Patriot Act needed to be expanded.
So, they get the records, send back the records, ask for them in a different way, hear that what they want isn't covered under those powers, so ask for the records again, get them and keep them this time, and then tell Congress that the reason they need less supervision is because institutions won't cooperate with them. That leads me to ask two questions: what in the hell were they thinking, and how much taxpayer money are they wasting while trying to get fake support for their demands?
Labels: government, law
Yesterday was the one hundred and eleventh anniversary of the Indiana legislature's unknowing attempt to set the value of pi. The story, told here
, is amusing. A physician in Solitude, Indiana (that should have been a warning itself) was an amateur mathematician who thought he had devised how to square the circle. For those who aren't aware of this pastime
, the idea was, using compass and ruler, to construct a square that had the same area as a given circle.
Although the possibility of doing this in a finite number of steps was disproved in the early 1880s when pi was shown to be a transcendental number (not the root of a polynomial with function with rational coordinates), Dr. Edwin Goodwin had apparently not heard. He wrote a bill encapsulating his idea and persuaded his local representative to introduce it
The quasi-mathematical ramblings must have worn on the unfortunate elected officials, who, largely not understanding a word read out loud, were ready to pass it, with the byproduct of effectively setting the value of pi to 3.2 and also of legislating a royalty, to be paid the ingenious fellow, on the use of the new value. Luckily the universe did not need to adjust its functioning because an actual mathematician, the chair of Purdue's math department, happened to be in the chamber at the time, and he took the time to explain the problem.
Labels: government, history, mathematics
Government Eavesdropping in Collections
From the only-in-America department and a Department of Justice audit (via AP, in this case), we learn that the some telephone companies have cut off FBI wiretaps of suspects for lack of payment
. Here's an interesting paragraph from the AP story:
A Justice Department audit released Thursday blamed the lost connections on the FBI's lax oversight of money used in undercover investigations. Poor supervision of the program also allowed one agent to steal $25,000, the audit said.
Out of 990 bills to five FBI field offices were not paid on time. One office had outstanding charges of $66,000.
This has me wondering about the collections process. Does the FBI getting reminders and dunning phone calls? Does the collections office have a ten most wanted field office list? And are suspects happily buying telco stock?
Labels: government, humor