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A Timely Second Look at Mark Crispin Miller's "Fooled Again"

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A Timely Second Look at Mark Crispin Miller’s Fooled Again – Introduction to a Multi-Part Series

by Joan Brunwasser, Voting Integrity editor, OpEdNews
July 12, 2007

Let’s face it, computers sometimes just don’t work. I have much anecdotal evidence to prove my point, a selection of which I will share with you now.


When I returned from the Take Back America Conference in Washington DC one evening earlier this summer, I flew into Midway Airport, the pint-sized cousin of world-class O’Hare. When my husband came to pick me up, he told me that O’Hare, one of the largest airports in the world, had been shut down for several hours because a computer breakdown kept personnel from calculating how much baggage each plane could safely carry. Planes were not permitted to take off, causing a domino effect of hundreds of delayed and cancelled flights. It didn’t reach epidemic proportions because there was a backup computer that eventually kicked in. But the damage was done, and I was grateful that, for a change, O’Hare hadn’t figured in my plans that evening.


A number of years ago, I fought Compaq for many months while they replaced every single component (and maybe some more than once) of my PC without ever actually fixing the problem. My computer still continually and inexplicably crashed. Finally, after seven pages of single-spaced, recorded conversations, various actions, inaction and immense aggravation on all sides, they begrudgingly offered me a new Compaq computer or its equivalent in cold hard cash. I grabbed the money, bought a Mac, and never looked back.

Who among us has not suffered from computer meltdown? There’s even a Microsoft Error Message Haiku collection that has been circulating (and growing) for years. It may have started with a contest at Salon magazine in 1998. These short poems, comprised of precisely 17 syllables, perfectly capture those feelings shared by every computer-user, serious or casual, student or senior. Time out for several juicy examples:

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes, and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.

Spring will come again,
But it will not bring with it
Any of your files.

This site has been moved.
We'd tell you where, but then we'd
have to delete you.

Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

Authors and plenty more haikus where these came from:

“Cancelled” Credit Card Charge

A few weeks ago, I went to a birthday brunch for a dear friend of mine on a Sunday afternoon. It just so happened that there was a small but impressive crafts fair down the street. After the brunch, I strolled between the booths, reveling in the sights and sounds while enjoying the unexpected break. I found a personable artisan complete with a Louisiana drawl who had created two pairs of earrings that clearly had my name on them – beautiful, funky but not too funky, and silver rather than gold. In short, perfect. Marie had been struggling with her card swipe machine all day, she freely confessed. Predictably, the machine stalled out after swiping my credit card. We waited a while and then waited some more. Nothing doing. She “undid” the transaction and gave me a receipt that the machine spit out, clearly labeled cancelled. I wrote a check instead and went on my way with two great pairs of earrings tucked under my arm.

Several weeks later, my credit card bill somehow contained the mysteriously-not-really-cancelled charge. I looked between the cancelled receipt I held in one hand and the credit card bill that I held in the other. Call me single-minded, but it so reminded me of what we’ve learned of the way computerized voting machines can give you every outward appearance of having registered your vote correctly, including printing out a receipt to that effect, while hiding quite a different, and completely fraudulent, story inside. Read John Washburn’s article on what the University of Connecticut recently discovered “Why VVPAT ‘paper trails’ are not enough” and you’ll understand why this incident reverberated so unpleasantly for me.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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