Tuesday, December 20, 2005

FBI keeping files on activist groups again

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The New York Times reported today that, as they did under J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI is watching activist groups (all of which, from the report, appear to be leftist, of course). Their counterterrorist agents are keeping tabs on Greenpeace and the Catholic Workers, among many others. The ACLU just released some documents, requested under the Freedom of Information Act. In the article "F.B.I. Watched Activist Groups, New Files Show" (12/20/05), Eric Lichtblau reports:
Counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief, newly disclosed agency records show.

F.B.I. officials said Monday that their investigators had no interest in monitoring political or social activities and that any investigations that touched on advocacy groups were driven by evidence of criminal or violent activity at public protests and in other settings....

But the documents, coming after the Bush administration's confirmation that President Bush had authorized some spying without warrants in fighting terrorism, prompted charges from civil rights advocates that the government had improperly blurred the line between terrorism and acts of civil disobedience and lawful protest.

It's seeming less likely that that U-Mass student was making up his story about DHS agents questioning him about an ILL request for a communist book. But with each new report of another example of the Bush administration overstepping its bounds and violating the constitutional rights of its citizens, I keep expecting huge outcries, talk of impeachment, and so on. And I don't hear it. Yet. I've written my rep in congress. Have you?

(link to the New York Times article. Should be there for a couple weeks, but free registration required, or go here.)

Monday, December 19, 2005

a hoax? or is that just what THE MAN wants you to think?

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So there's been debate about whether the student at U-Mass Dartmouth actually did get a visit from Homeland Security.

Maybe he was trying to bring attention to what it means to live in country where the government snoops into your reading materials. But if this is a stunt, it seems to actually undermine the intent--it gives skeptics reason to say that opposition to the Patriot Act is hysteria. Yeesh. The plot thickens.

(link to my previous post about this incident)
(link to Boing Boing's coverage/debate)
(link to librarian.net)

Update (12/24/05): 'Twas a hoax. The Boston Globe reports.

del.icio.us offline!

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One of the problems with relying on web sites for data storage is when they go offline. I'd been trying to access my del.icio.us account yesterday and today, and finally learned why i couldn't:

Our datacenter has had full power outage, and we are now recovering from the aftermath. About half of the machines are still down and we are working on bringing them back as soon as possible. To keep things moving, I've turned off RSS and some other features so that posting will still work and so that you will still have access to your bookmarks. (link to the del.icio.us blog)

Eek. A funny thing to come across just after reading about the web 2.0 applications of the year, where putting one's data online is touted as the way of the future. Maybe I'm not so ready for that.

Plus, now that del.icio.us has been bought up by Yahoo (which has another social bookmarking tool already, My Web2.0), how do i know how long del.icio.us will last? I'd think that its popularity ensure some stability, but who knows.

I'm grumbly today because I think I'm getting sick. Eck.

Update (later in the day): Del.icio.us is back up and running, but now Bloglines is down. Oh, the humanity.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

why "radical militant librarians" are up in arms

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This is why it's a good thing the Senate didn't renew the Patriot Act:
A Massachussetts paper is reporting that a college student was visited by Department of Homeland Security agents in October after requesting a copy of Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung -- better known as "The Little Red Book" -- from a university library...
(from Boing Boing).
WTF?! Homeland Security is worried about college students reading about communism?! At least they're only using their powers to catch the real terrorists.

An appropriate reaction to a college student using ILL to get a primary text for his research would be a team of librarians showing up at his door to give him a garland. Now that would be cool.

(link to news story here)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


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Amid all the recent wringing of hands over Wikipedia's reliability, a new contender in the collaboratively-produced encyclopedia field has emerged: Uncyclopedia.

Self-described as "the content-free encyclopedia that anyone can edit," the Uncyclopedia attempts to undo Wikipedia's dominance in the cataloging of un-facts, and it does so with a premium* sense of absurdity. Most entries include apt Oscar Wilde quotes which aren't Oscar Wilde quotes.

My favorite entry so far is Your Mom. There is also an entry on Librarians, though this entry is basically a rehashing of librarian stereotypes (sigh. guess i have to start editing the entry, huh?).

I first read about it at Library Stuff, one of my new favorite blogs, btw.

*I'm taken with the word "premium" lately. Mostly as a result of reading Everything is Illuminated.