Irregular Reporting of Societal IssuesSM

"Get your news weakly"SM 16 October 2006

ACLU Indicted

This week, a judge in New York City convicted the American Civil Liberties Union on charges of aiding terrorist organizations. Sentencing is expected this week. The ACLU has argued that they were simply upholding the Constitution, but experts say they have not seen the document in years. As one lawmaker put it, "Who reads stuff written 200 years ago? New fiction comes out every day, so I see no need to go back". The ACLU had hoped to have amicus briefs filed on their behalf, but calls to several lawmakers, lawyers groups, and civil rights organizations went unanswered.

W3C Issues Draft XML Subtext Specification

In an effort to standardize the troublingly diverse interpersonal communication protocols available in the world, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has published a draft XML Subtext Specification, tentatively called STML. "Finally, with the power of XML, we will be able to eliminate the inconsistencies and vagueness of communications plagued by a lack of standardization", said W3C director Tim Berners-Lee.

The new draft STML standard will do away with the cumbersome nature of current interaction, replacing it with a set of standard headers and protocols allowing a message receiver to properly interpret the ensuing data payload. For example, an email sent in the chaotic, standards-free world of today might say, "Sure, honey, liquidate our savings, divorce me, and run off to Mexico with a beautiful 20-year old", which could easily be misinterpreted as a literal direction statement.

The new draft STML specification simplifies this communication, while adding much needed clarity. First, there will be communications headers to establish the language in which the ensuing message will arrive, and what sub-headers will be invoked. In the above example, there would be a content header, followed by content, and a sarcasm sub-header. The authors of the specification write in their introduction that sarcasm is an increasingly important aspect of electronic communication and daily world-wide business, so particular attention has been paid to that area of the data exchange protocols. Some of the stated goals for the draft specification are:


  • Sarcasm shall be straightforwardly usable over the Internet.
  • STML shall support a wide variety of emotions. Subtext documents should be human-legible and reasonably clear.
  • The STML design should be prepared hastily.
  • Sarcasm shall be easy to create.
  • Terseness in STML markup is of paramount importance.
  • STML shall support multiple languages, but the tags will be standardized into English, as the most expressive and useful language available.

Developers everywhere applauded the decision. "This is an example of how technology is making people's lives better. Finally my success with women will be dependent upon my mastery of technology", said Jeff Nuhrd, 30-year-old local software developer and virgin.

Other critics were not quite as positive. "There are real problems with the specification", said Chris Ide, a Sun-certified J2EE programmer. As examples of these problems, Mr. Ide cited his several test implementations on a 486 running Windows 3.1, a Pentium D running Red Hat Linux, a Sun SPARC 10 running GNOME 2.0, a Mac running OS X, a Palm Tungsten T, an AMD Athlon running BeOS R5, and an Amiga. Ide concluded that the holes in the specification are obvious, since "I still did not have a date on Friday night".

Falwell Speaks Out

Once again, the Reverend Jerry Falwell spoke for all like-minded zealots regarding the wondrous work of the Lord in Hawai'i. "It is not an accident that an earthquake struck that place of sloth, sex, and idolators", said Falwell. The Lord God was not immediately available for comment, but sources indicate that She has applied for a restraining order.

Israeli President Accused

A firestorm of controversy has erupted in Israel regarding serious accusations of wrong-doing by the president, a position that is largely ceremonial. Among the allegations is a charge that the president authorized illegal wiretaps. Concerned Israelis from across the political spectrum have begun demanding the president's resignation. In related news, U.S. President Bush sent the Israeli president a gift basket.

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© 2006 Lea Ann Mawler & Stuart Mawler