Author: Lisa

The Fifth and Executive Privilege

Intellectually, I know that invoking one’s Fifth Amendment right is not an admission of guilt. But, any time I hear someone taking the 5th, my subconscious assumption is either that they’re guilty of whatever is being asked or the answer brings up some other admission of guilt. Because, seriously, why refuse to answer if the content of the answer is exculpatory and doesn’t implicate someone important to me?

In the same way, I intellectually know that my subconscious brain went somewhere not legally valid when Dr. Fiona Hill refused to answer a question citing executive privilege. The line of questioning was basically “you’ve been high up on the Russia desk for some time, so you’ve been on a lot of these phone calls with foreign heads of state”, “yes”, “is the content of this (the declassified 25 July phone call with Zelensky) call unusual”, PRIVILEGE! Which only makes me think that demanding personal favors that run counter to national interest (or having favors that run counter to the national interest demanded of him) isn’t unusual.

November Debate

I like the point about putting more effort into turning the 50% of non-voters into voters … between single-issue voters who will never vote for a Democrat & the 30 or whatever percent that seriously think the Trump presidency is perfect, it’s not like there’s a lot of people to be swayed there. The huge pool of people who don’t vote? Offer free childcare & transportation. Get them engaged with some piece of the platform.

 

“The fragility of his ego stood in the way of national security” … Harris’ assessment of Trump’s interactions with N. Korea is a good quote, and not just about this particular issue.

I want nothing …

So, if I go jack, say, a Lambo … and when the cops show up say I’m heading out to return it … that’s OK?! Because chatting with an Ambassador and telling them he doesn’t want anything from the Ukraine after knowing the whistle-blower complaint is headed to the House isn’t exactly a great defense. Similarly, saying the money got released after the complaint … not exonerating.

Exchange Mail & Calendar In Teams (duct tape approach, not official MS solution)

The Exchange web client renders in the Teams website tab now – Chrome and Chromium-based Edge. I use the nightly build of FireFox and it says ‘Blocked by X-Frame-Options Policy’

This isn’t a way to get new mail notifications in Teams – you’ve got to click over to the tab. But it does let you send a quick message without leaving Teams.

It’s a little inconvenient, though, to have to navigate over to the right channel to find the website tab. You can also create a custom Teams application to access the Exchange website. That’s a little more complicated, but you basically need a manifest.json with static tabs to the inbox and calendar.

Install and open “App Studio” in Teams. Create a new app. Fill in the details — use the generate button to get an app ID. Since you’re not going to publish the app to the Microsoft app store, the info you use isn’t super important … the privacy and terms of use, specifically, aren’t something anyone is going to read.

And

In the “Capabilities” section, add a personal tab

Add a tab for the mailbox:

If you wish, add a tab for the calendar – I prefer the weekly view, but you can replace “week” with “workweek”, “day”, or “month”.

In the “Test and Distribute”, click “Download”.

You’ll get a zip file that you can side-load (i.e. it’s not an app published across the company). In “Apps”, select “Upload a custom app”

Locate the downloaded ZIP file and open it

Verify that your app looks right – the permissions are base permissions for all apps (we didn’t add anything special)

Click “Add” and you’ll be able to select the new app from the ellipses in Teams.

And you’ll have an app that can access your mailbox

Or a week view of your calendar

 

Direct Representation

I always wanted to run for federal office on the platform of direct representation — more a technology than a platform. Develop a system that allows constituents to log in and vote for any legislation — basically like proxy voting for shareholders. I’d deliver summary and full text content of anything in advance of the vote, and I’d cast my vote as dictated by my constituents. And constituents could see the vote totals for each piece of legislation to prove that I am voting based on real input. Obviously, this platform suffers an immense privilege problem — it’s great for a demographic with free time to read through legislation and convenient Internet access. It also suffers a civic disengagement problem — does anyone actually want to read through the text of everything that’s coming up in my committees and to floor votes? It’s quite possible that I’d be voting against the National Law Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 1865) because five people bothered to lodge an opinion … and only to troll the entire idea behind direct representation. And none of that considers the threat of malicious actors.

Once there is a platform available for one legislator, expending it to others in the same chamber is trivial. Adding the other chamber or state legislatures is an undertaking from a content-development standpoint (what *is* on schedule for the Oregon Senate today?), but the underlying development effort is the same. Somewhat like the National Popular Vote compact is an end-run around formalizing the eradication of the Electoral College, this would be an end-run around indirect representation.

But I’ve thought, of late, that starting at the Federal level is misguided — if for no other reason than the incredible amount of money it takes to run a campaign for federal office. But also because getting the six million or so Ohio voters set up for direct representation by their state Senator would be a logistical nightmare. It seems better to begin implementation at the local level — run for school board or a Township Trustee position where you are concerned about a few thousand voters. Use local offices as small proof-of-concept experiments. Maybe it doesn’t work out — maybe no one cares enough to check what’s being discussed and vote for their position. Maybe running and supporting the platform is too expensive or time consuming. Hell, maybe no one is interested enough in direct representation for a direct representation candidate to win in the first place.

Local Politics

I’ve had a few reminders recently that civic engagement is more than focus on national politics. Bonus: local Trustees, School Board members … even state Reps and Senators … hear from far fewer people (e.g. I get personal responses from these folks and a form “thanks for your opinion” messages back from my federal officials).

Ohioans can find their state Rep and Senator at https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislators/district-maps

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I am writing to express my vehement objection to GA133 HB-164

I appreciate the desire to allow students to express religious beliefs in their school-work. Allowing a student to select the Torah for their book report is one thing, but this legislation seems to have the unintended consequence of allowing religious-based beliefs to inform “correct” answers. While it is factual to say “scientists believe X, and some people do not concur due to religious beliefs”, and it is useful to teach our children this truth, how can a science class be taught when scientific answers are discounted? And what constitutes a valid religious belief? Something like 18 USC § 1093 is so vague that we’ll find a new “religion” that strongly believes that division by zero equals five. Or that vowels are an abomination which must be struck from the language.

Even restricting “religious expression” to religions with a large, arbitrary number members creates issues. The proposed legislation will put schools in the difficult position of either telling students their purported religious beliefs do not “count” or allowing offensive and subversive content to be expressed. Where I attended school, some individuals ran for school board on the platform of pushing religious issues — primarily allowing high school students to read a prayer as part of the morning announcements. These individuals assumed this meant we would all hear a Christian prayer each morning. While I was certain there were some high school students eager to read the expected content, I was equally certain there would be some high school students eager to read a Druid/Buddhist/Scientologist prayer in the morning. At which point the school administration either needed to prohibit those students from reading unwanted content (and the risk of litigation such a prohibition entailed), telling kids that they’re not actually Raelian and thus need to wear a shirt to school (and how exactly do you prove or disprove one’s affiliation with a religion?!), or allowing the expression of religious beliefs by anyone who wanted to purport a religious belief. I was quite confident that the Board members who were pushing to allow a morning prayer would be horrified to have their kids listening to Satanic invocations. Were there enough students ready to read a ‘mainstream’ prayer that the school could just claim the time was all booked up? This legislation seems to suffer the same problem — except without the possibility that all of the “religious expression slots” will be taken by the “right” type of expression. The new Board members withdrew their proposal after I questioned how it would actually work, and I hope you will vote against this bill should it come to the floor.

Modifying Shared PHP Function

We needed to modify a shared function to include additional information … but didn’t want to coordinate changing all of the calls to the function as one change. Simplest way to accomplish that was to set a default value for the new parameter — either to NULL and just not do the new thing when the parameter is NULL or some value that indicates that we’re not yet gathering that data.

<?php

function testFunction($strOldParameter, $strNewParameter=NULL){
     echo "The old parameter is |$strOldParameter|\n";
     if($strNewParameter){
          echo "The new parameter is |$strNewParameter|\n";
     }
}

testFunction("first", "second");
testFunction("justFirst");

?>

Did I miss something?!

I’ll admit that I was only halfway paying attention to Survivor tonight, but it sounds like some women lied about someone’s physical contact making them uncomfortable (exaggerated their discomfort?) and then lied about their lying. They discuss the harassment, bond over the shared (miserable) experience. And then I hear “You tell her how uncomfortable you are … like, you have a very open mom/daughter moment about how uncomfortable you are. Right now, that’s our only play.” Our only play?!?

After someone else got voted off the island, Janet explains to Dan why she “turned” on him. Reasonable move, and if (as the show claims) they had a group meeting about respecting personal boundaries and an individual meeting with Dan that included a warning about his behavior … I’m not sure how it’s news to the dude why people were voting for him. Dan talks to Missy and Elizabeth and is told that Janet is lying to him. I mean, I know that the narrative gets built in editing and all … but it’s not like they’re selectively including the three times someone mentioned it to make it seem like something that’s a constant topic of conversation and the person says “I mentioned it once or twice, but I wasn’t making a huge deal about it”. If you never said that … there wouldn’t be footage to include. I was glad that Janet got all four of them together instead of allowing the other women to tell different stories to different people, but the ultimate resolution of their discussion seemed to be “well, Janet, you misunderstood and it got blown out of proportion”. Not “yes, I lied about this”.

Now, I’d understand if they decided that, yeah, dude makes them uncomfortable. But they were going to suck it up to retain their position in the game. I don’t want my alliance to think I’m untrustworthy, so I cannot vote out “one of us”. That would have been a rare bit of actual reality in “reality tv”. I’ve endured uncomfortable situations because I wanted to keep getting a paycheque. But the discomfort was truth. And I didn’t band together with a group of women, agreeing to discuss the problem with HR, only to tell HR that I never saw anything inappropriate. Tthe entire situation was disgusting – gee, why are people hesitant to believe someone who claims to be harassed – and I have a bad feeling that the “drama” is meant to be a hook for the show.

The ethos (or lack there-of) in Survivor has been part of the game since the second episode. Once contestants realized how the game worked, they figured out how to work the game. While lying with integrity is difficult to conceptualize, there are different types of lies told during the game … there’s a significant difference between maintaining multiple alliances or telling someone they’re not mentioned for the vote tonight and claiming that someone is harassing you and then telling that person you never said it. Working the game seems to rely on other players not becoming privy to the information we, as viewers, have. And I wonder what impact it would have on the ethics of the game if the endgame was tweaked. Once the final contestants were selected, and the members of the jury are known … take a few days break before the vote. Allow the production team to do some rough editing for broadcast footage. And then allow the jury to watch the show. Sure, content editing creates a story for each person and it’s a skewed view of the individual. But the final vote would more-or-less be cast with the same information viewers have. The jury thinks it is a shrewd move to use sexual harassment as a ‘play’ in the game and still votes for one of those women? That’s a lot different than jurors thinking Janet blew it out of proportion and only one contestant had complained about the guy.

Microsoft Teams: Private Channels Arrive

WooHoo! When creating a channel, I have a privacy setting!!

Individuals who do not have access to the channel do not see it in their Teams listing, and posts made to a private channel cannot at-mention the Team or individuals who do not have access. I’m glad Microsoft landed on the side of privacy in their implementation here.

It would be awesome if MS would have added the ability to move channels into other Teams with this rollout so we could consolidate Teams that were set up to restrict access to content. But at least we’ll be able to consolidate general-access and restricted-access content in a single Teams space going forward.